Dengue is transmitted by a vector, in this case, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.  (Photo: Pixabay)

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) declared a health emergency to 51 districts due to imminent risk of an outbreak of dengue. The measure will last 90 days and seeks to take the necessary measures to contain the cases.

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So far this year, more than 35 thousand cases of dengue have been registered and 25 people have died from the disease, according to the most recent Epidemiological Bulletin of the National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Diseases of the Minsa.

What is dengue?

Dengue is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes (aedes aegypti) that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Mild dengue causes high fever, skin rash, and muscle and joint pain. A severe form of dengue, also called “dengue hemorrhagic fever,” can cause ssevere bleeding, sudden drop in blood pressure (shock), and death.

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Millions of cases of dengue infection occur annually around the world. Dengue is most prevalent in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands, but the disease has been increasing rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fatality rate in Peru is 0.06 deaths per 100 cases.

Dengue is transmitted by a vector, in this case, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. (Photo: Pixabay)

Researchers are working on dengue vaccines. For the moment, the best prevention is to reduce mosquito habitat in areas where dengue fever is prevalent. For this reason, it is essential to keep the water tanks in our homes clean and sealed, since they are places where the mosquito that transmits dengue can reproduce.

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Dengue symptoms

Many people, especially children and teens, may have signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue. When symptoms occur, usually They begin four to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Dengue causes a high fever of 40 ° C and at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Pain in the muscles, bones, and joints
  • Sickness
  • Vomiting
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Inflamed glands
  • Acne

Most people recover in about a week. In some cases, symptoms get worse and can be life threatening. Blood vessels are often damaged and lose blood. And it decreases the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in the bloodstream. This can lead to a serious form of dengue called “Dengue hemorrhagic fever”, “severe dengue” or “dengue shock syndrome”.

Symptoms of severe dengue

Signs and symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever or severe dengue, which represents a life-threatening emergency, include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Constant vomiting
  • Bleeding gums or nose
  • Blood in urine, stool, or vomit
  • Bleeding under the skin, which might look like a bruise
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Cold or clammy skin (shock)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability or restlessness

Dengue causes

Dengue is caused by any of the four types of dengue virus transmitted by mosquitoes that proliferate in and around human dwellings. When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, it enters the insect. When the infected mosquito then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream.

Countries like Panama are already spraying endemic areas to prevent the proliferation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.  (Photo: Luis ACOSTA / AFP)
Countries like Panama are already spraying endemic areas to prevent the proliferation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. (Photo: Luis ACOSTA / AFP)

When you heal from dengue, you are immune to the type of virus that infected you, but not to the remaining three types of dengue virus. The risk of getting severe dengue, also known as “dengue hemorrhagic fever,” actually increases if you become infected a second, third, or fourth time.

Risk factor’s

Factors that increase your risk of getting dengue or a more serious form of the disease include:

  • Live or travel in tropical regions. Being in tropical and subtropical regions, such as some regions of Peru, increases the risk of exposure to the virus that causes dengue. High-risk regions are, in particular, Southeast Asia, the western Pacific islands, Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • A previous infection with a dengue virus. A previous infection with a dengue virus increases the risk of serious symptoms if you re-infect.

Complications

If severe, dengue can damage the lungs, liver, or heart. Blood pressure can drop to dangerous levels, cause shock and, in some cases, death.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for dengue. Your doctor may recommend that you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration from vomiting and a high fever.

Dengue grows in Madre de Dios and Santa Rosa hospital collapses
Dengue grows in Madre de Dios and Santa Rosa hospital collapses

During recovery from dengue, pay attention to signs and symptoms of dehydration. Call your doctor immediately or go to a health center if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Less urine
  • Few tears or total absence of them
  • Dry mouth or lips
  • Lethargy or confusion
  • Cold or clammy extremities

Acetaminophen can relieve pain and lower fever. Avoid pain relievers that can increase bleeding complications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.

If you have severe dengue fever, you may need:

  • Complementary care in a hospital
  • IV fluids and electrolyte replacement
  • Control of blood pressure
  • Transfusion to replace blood loss

When to consult the doctor?

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you have recently visited an area with known cases of dengue and have emergency symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting, shortness of breath, or blood in the nose, gums, vomit or feces.

If you have a fever and frequent milder dengue symptoms, contact your doctor.

Preparation for the consultation

You will likely consult your primary healthcare professional first. However, also You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases.

As consultations can be brief and there is usually a lot to talk about, it is advisable that you prepare well for the consultation. Here is some information to help you prepare for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.

What can you do

  • Write down any symptoms you have, even those that seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down your most important personal information. Write down your international travel history, with the dates and countries you visited, as well as the medications you took while traveling. Keep track of your vaccinations, even the ones you had before traveling.
  • Make a list of all the medications you take. Include any vitamins or supplements that you take regularly.
  • Write questions to ask the doctor. Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Order the questions from the most important to the least important, in case time runs out.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor about dengue fever include:

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What kind of tests do I need to have?
  • What treatments are available?
  • How long will it take me to start feeling better?
  • Does this disease have long-term side effects?
  • Do you have brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend for me?

Diagnosis

Diagnosing dengue can be difficult because the signs and symptoms can easily be confused with those of other diseases, such as malaria, leptospirosis, typhoid fever and COVID-19.

The doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe the trips in detail, including the countries you visited and the dates, as well as any contact with mosquitoes you may have had.

Certain lab tests detect evidence of dengue viruses, but test results generally arrive too late to help guide treatment decisions.

Prevention

A dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, is approved for use in people 9 to 45 years of age who live in areas with a high incidence of dengue. The vaccine is given in three doses over 12 months. Dengvaxia vaccine prevents dengue infections in little more than half the time.

The vaccine is approved only for older children because younger children who receive it appear to have a higher risk of developing severe dengue and require hospitalization two years after receiving the vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes that the vaccine is not an effective tool, on its own, to reduce dengue in areas where the disease is common. Controlling mosquito populations and human exposure remains the most important preventive measure.

So for now, if you live or travel to an area affected by dengue, the best way to not contracting dengue is avoiding mosquito bites that transmits the disease.

If you live or travel to tropical areas where dengue fever is prevalent, the following tips will help you reduce the risk of mosquito bites:

  • Remain in air-conditioned environments well protected with mosquito nets. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus are most active at dawn and dusk, but they also bite at night.
  • Wear protective clothing. When you go to mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and shoes.
  • Use mosquito repellent. You can apply permethrin to your clothing, shoes, camping gear, and bed nets. You can also buy clothes that already contain permethrin. For your skin, use a repellent that contains at least a 10 percent concentration of DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide).
  • Reduce mosquito habitat. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus normally live in and around homes, and breed in stagnant water that can accumulate on objects such as car tires. You can help reduce mosquito populations by eliminating the habitats where they lay their eggs. At least once a week, empty and clean containers that hold standing water, such as flower pots, animal dishes, and vases. Keep containers of standing water covered between cleanings.

With information from Mayo Clinic

According to the criteria of

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