It’s been over a year and a half since the pandemic hit us, and COVID19 is still very much amongst us. Only time will tell what the future holds for us. While India continues to deal with a significant number of COVID cases, there is suddenly a surge in vector-borne diseases, especially Dengue, in multiple states. The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is the worst affected, where children are contracting the disease more often. Recently, officials from ICMR mentioned that the D2 or DENV-2 strain of Dengue was found in certain districts of UP. Experts suggest that the Dengue virus serotype two (D2) is more harmful and virulent. Mumbai alone recorded 144 cases of Dengue in August, 85 in the first half of September till the 12th; data has shown that there have been around 305 cases in the city since January 2021.Also Read - Delhi Reports First Death Due To Dengue This Year, Total Number of Cases Climb to 723 | 10 Points

These numbers only tell us that we need to be highly cautious of this disease. More so because we are still battling the coronavirus, and there are possible chances of a double infection. In fact, many people are getting admitted to the hospital with symptoms of both COVID19 and Dengue, which can be life-threatening. Also Read - Manmohan Singh Health Update: Former PM Diagnosed With Dengue, Says AIIMS

There are four types of Dengue virus (DENV) known to humankind. Scientific data says that the virus entered the human population from monkeys a few centuries ago. This flu-like illness is endemic in countries across Asia, Africa, the Pacific, the Americas, the Caribbean, etc. Also Read - War Against Pandemic Not Over Yet, Can Return With Vengeance: AIIMS Covid Task Force Chief

Transmission of Dengue

Dengue happens through the bite of an infected mosquito of the genus Aedes, either the Ae aegypti or Ae Albopictus species. These same mosquitoes are the agents of spreading the Zika and Chikungunya virus. If a pregnant woman contracts dengue, the virus can easily pass on to the foetus during the term of pregnancy or childbirth. Though rare, the disease may also spread through organ donation and blood transfusion.

Symptoms of Dengue

With covid-19 in our reality nowadays, one might mistake the covid-19 infection for dengue and vice versa. However, there are some symptoms solely for each of the two illnesses. For example, a lack of smell and taste is a sign of covid-19 and not dengue. Similarly, diarrhoea is more common in dengue compared to covid-19, which is a respiratory infection. The severity of dengue differentiates the disease into mild dengue fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

Mild Dengue Fever: The symptoms can range from joint and muscle aches, high fever, body rash, frequent vomiting, and intense headache. These symptoms generally disappear with treatment in a week and are rarely fatal.

Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever: There is bleeding in the gums, nose, mouth, low blood platelets count, internal bleeding, diarrhoea, convulsions, blood spots on the skin, intense fever, clammy skin and abdominal pain. Without proper medical care, the situation can escalate to being fatal.

Dengue Shock Syndrome: The most severe and is often lethal. Here exhibitory signs include low blood pressure, weak and rapid pulse beat, brain oedema leading to visual/ auditory hallucinations, cerebral anoxia (no oxygen reaching the brain), heavy bleeding, high fever, vomiting, acute abdominal pain, etc.

A vaccine is available but with limited success for this viral disease. The patient must stay hydrated. It is best to seek consultation from a doctor and remain under their course of medical treatment. If the situation is serious, hospitalisation may be necessary.

Precautions

  1. Don’t allow water to accumulate in plant pots, buckets, or any open area in your home. Clean the plant pot plates every alternate day at least. The mosquitoes lay their eggs in water as the larva is aquatic
  2. Stay away from open drains, stagnant water; they’re the perfect mosquito breeding grounds
  3. Apply mosquito repellants or wear covered clothes when going outside
  4. Use mosquito nets and sprays at home, shut windows and doors in the evening
  5. Eat fresh homecooked meals, include green leafy vegetables in your diet to build immunity

These are a few ways to strengthen our shield against the disease and curb the drastically increasing cases. After all, prevention is always better than cure

(Inputs by Dr. Kirti Sabnis, Infectious Disease Specialist in Fortis Hospitals, Kalyan)