Dengue is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne arboviral diseases in the tropics. It is caused by the dengue virus which is a flavivirus, transmitted by the bite of the infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito, which breed in clean stagnant water. Malaria, which is caused by the bite of the infected Anopheles mosquito, and dengue are rampant during the monsoons, where the mosquito-vector density rises exponentially. Over the past couple of years, cases of malaria have gone down, but dengue does not seem to abate. Also, the severity of dengue has increased in the past couple of years due to several factors including the mutation of the virus. Dr Mala Kaneria, Consultant Infectious Specialist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre explains the possible reasons for this.
The growing prevalence of dengue fever shows how urbanization and globalization have influenced infectious disease emergence. Periods of heavy rainfall interspersed with dry weather is conducive to the multiplication of the dengue vector. Aedes aegypti is a highly domesticated urban mosquito that prefers to live with humans in their homes, feeds on humans and lay eggs in artificial containers made by humans. It bites several individuals during a single blood meal. Automobile tires, plastic containers, drums filled with water, coolers, etc which are found in the crowded urban environment are implicated in the high mosquito population densities. Statistics indicate that dengue mosquito breeding inside houses has gone up by 27% in the last year and dengue cases in the state have increased by 41% in just one year. Rampant authorized and unauthorized construction has contributed to the rise in dengue cases.
Symptoms of dengue consist of high fever, severe body ache (hence called breakbone fever), headache, conjunctival congestion, rash and bleeding manifestations. Certain vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac conditions, etc may have severe symptoms and a higher rate of complications. It is important to watch out for warning signs such as unresponsive fever, severe vomiting, abdominal pain, breathlessness, loss of consciousness, bleeding from the nose, mouth, etc and hospitalize such patients.