Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dengue Fever Awareness

Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes.  It is widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions. In the month of February 2014, the Dar es Salaam Public Health Officials confirmed a new wave of dengue fever cropped up in the most parts of Dar es Salaam and is still continuing.

The first ever recorded fever in Dar es Salaam was recorded in 2010 and in July last year. The Ministry reaffirmed that there were no confirmed death in either two past breakouts.(Tambwe M., Daily Newspaper, 8.2.2014)

Although dengue symptoms, when mild, can seem flulike, there is no vaccine or treatment for the infection other than staying hydrated and taking acetaminophen to manage the pain, other pain killers of the NSAID group like Ibuprofen & Diclofenac are not recommended as they can increase bleeding due to low platelet count (blood clotting cells). Those flulike symptoms also hamper public health officials’ ability to track the disease, because official surveillance of occurrences is based on medical reports and patients may not seek care for what they assume is a bout of flu. An estimated 50 million to 100 million dengue infections occur worldwide yearly, and severe forms of the disease can be fatal, especially among children. Beyond dengue’s death toll, its impact is largely felt in economic terms because sickened people cannot work or attend school.

Many people, especially children and teens, may experience no signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue fever. When symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after the person is bitten by an infected mosquito.

The principal symptoms of dengue fever are listed below. Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults.
  • High Fever, up to 41ÂșC
  • Severe Headaches
  • Muscle, bone and joint pain
  • Pain behind your eye
Patient might also experience:
  • Widespread rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Minor bleeding from your gums or nose
Most people recover within a week or so. In some cases, however, symptoms worsen and can become life-threatening. Blood vessels often become damaged and leaky, and the number of clot-forming cells in your bloodstream falls. This can cause:
  • Bleeding from the nose and mouth
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Bleeding under the skin, which may look like bruising
  • Problems with your lungs, liver and heart
  • Red spots or patches on the skin
  • Black, tarry stools (faeces, excrement)
  • Drowsiness or irritability
  • Pale, cold, or clammy skin
  • Difficulty breathing
There is no vaccine for preventing dengue.
The best preventive measure for residents living in areas infested with Ae. aegypti is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, primarily areas that hold standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying
  • Items that collect rainwater or to store water (for example, garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots, plastic containers, drums, buckets, any other containers, pet's water bowls, or used automobile tires) should be covered or properly discarded.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with traps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
  • Clothing: Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET
  • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house
  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
  • Using air conditioning or window and door screens reduces the risk of mosquitoes coming indoors.
  • Proper application of mosquito repellents.
  • Mosquito Control: Use screens on doors and windows; use patio insecticides such as Permethrin (pesticide and repellent) and Allethrin (candles and lanterns. Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and closed shoes to avoid mosquito bites at dusk and dawn especial.
  • Use repellents containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or Picaridin on your clothing and exposed skin. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and CDC recommendations. (
There is no specific medication for treatment of a dengue infection. Persons who think they have dengue should use pain relievers such as acetaminophen, other pain killers of the NSAID group like Ibuprofen & Diclofenac are not recommended as they can increase bleeding due to low platelet count (blood clotting cells). They should also;
  • Rest,
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration,
  • Avoid mosquito bites while febrile and
  • Consult a physician.
You should see your GP if you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning from an area where the dengue virus is common. If a clinical diagnosis is made early, a health care provider can effectively treat you. Kindly VISIT your nearest Health centre for advice and to test and confirm diagnosis of Dengue fever.

Credit: KSIJ Central Board of Education

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