Prevention and Early Detection reduce the Burden of Severe Dengue

Published on 11 September, 2021

With the rising number of dengue cases this season, awareness of a few facts about dengue could help to prevent it, detect it early and prevent complications. Dengue can be uneventful in some people, whereas others may require hospitalization.

Avoid Mosquito Bites to Prevent Dengue

The first step to deal with any disease is prevention.  The Aedes aegypti mosquito, the one with a black-and-white striped appearance, spreads dengue. It bites during the day, especially in the mornings and evenings. A good mosquito repellent could keep it at bay. The mosquito breeds in water collected in pots, buckets, used tyres and such other articles that may be lying around in the house or the garden, especially during the monsoons. It is necessary not only to empty these, but to also scrub their base so that any eggs laid in these containers can be eliminated.

Detect Dengue Early

Dengue is one of the infections that should be suspected if fever develops, especially if accompanied by symptoms such as headache, pain behind the eyes, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, and rash. It can be detected using simple blood tests. If detected early, warning signs that may indicate a progression to severe disease can be identified early and steps can be taken to prevent them.

A Reduction in Fever may not always indicate Recovery from Dengue

The complications in dengue usually arise between days 3 and 8 of symptoms, when the fever starts reducing. Thus, the critical period is when the patients may feel that they are on the way to recovery. The complications of dengue arise due to two main reasons – the fall in platelet counts and the movement of fluid from the blood vessels into the tissues.

  • Platelets are cells in the blood that stop bleeding at the site of an injury. A low platelet count, which is estimated through blood tests, could increase the chances of bleeding. Thus, any sign of bleeding should be watched for and reported early.
  • Blood consists of the blood cells and the fluid portion, referred to as plasma. In dengue, some of the plasma seeps out through the blood vessels. Thus, concentration of the blood cells within the blood vessels increases, which can be measured using a blood test called hematocrit. The blood pressure may fall, though it may appear normal in the initial stages.  A decrease in urine output must ring the alarm bells. Fluid replacement orally or through intravenous drip may be necessary at this stage to maintain the blood pressure.

A Dengue Infection does not ensure Immunity from Future Infections

People who recover from a dengue infection are usually immune against the infection for life. However, there is a catch here. The dengue virus has four different variants. Therefore, an infection with one variant confers immunity only against that variant. In fact, a second infection with a different variant could result in a more severe infection, and therefore one’s guard against preventing dengue should not be let down, especially after the first infection.

Vaccine for Dengue protects against the Second Severe Infection

A vaccine for dengue is available, though not currently in India. It is administered to adults of certain age groups who have recovered from a dengue infection to prevent a subsequent serious infection. It is not given to people who have never suffered from dengue since in such cases, instead of protecting against dengue, the subsequent infection proved to be severe.

Even if vaccinated, avoiding the mosquito bite remains the best approach to prevent dengue.


Disclaimer: The information provided in this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor or healthcare professional, or the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider for any medical condition, procedure, or treatment.