The Danger of Dengue Fever
Dengue fever has broken out in different pockets in South American in 2020. It is more common in the summer months. It is also prevalent happens in Mainland China, particularly in Guangdong Province, Guangxi Autonomous Region, and the provinces of Fujian, Hainan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang, and many countries nearby in tropical climates and is a particular concern when traveling.
The global incidence has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world's population is now at risk. There are an estimated 100-400 million Dengue infections each year.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is caused by a viral infection transmitted through the bite of two mosquito species. It is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.
- The virus responsible for causing dengue, is called dengue virus (DENV). There are four DENV serotypes, meaning that it is possible to be infected four times.
- While many infections produce only mild illness, DENV can cause an acute flu-like illness. Occasionally this develops into potentially lethal complications, called severe dengue.
- Severe dengue is a leading cause of serious illness and death in some Asian and Latin American countries.
Symptoms of dengue fever include sudden-onset fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash like measles. Most dengue infections are mistaken for simple viral fever. Two severe, but rare, forms are dengue hemorrhagic fever (which results in bleeding, declining levels of blood platelets or blood plasma leakage) and dengue shock syndrome (when extremely low blood pressure occurs).
The incubation period (time between being bitten and when symptoms show) is four to seven days. Dengue is usually self-limiting; the illness resolves itself without medical intervention, usually within one to two weeks.
Dengue Treatment Options
There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue. Early detection of disease progression associated with severe dengue, and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates of severe dengue to below 1%.
Since there is not a specific drug treatment, conservative options are used. This might include bed rest, fluids, and analgesics to manage the pain and bring down fever. However, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin should be avoided. These anti-inflammatory drugs act by thinning the blood and are not recommended due to the risk of hemorrhage with dengue.
Immunity and Types
There are four distinct strains of the dengue virus. Recovery from one strain provides lifelong immunity against that type, while cross-immunity to the other three is only partial and temporary. Actually, researchers have noticed that a person reinfected by another type has a higher risk of developing severe symptoms. Even with immunity against the same dengue strain, it is still possible to develop a fever while the body fights against the infection.
A vaccine has been developed but use is targeted for persons living in endemic areas, ranging from 9-45 years of age, who have had at least 1 documented dengue virus infection previously.
To prevent dengue fever, we must reduce the frequency of mosquito bites. Prevention includes community-wide efforts, personal environmental measures to reduce mosquitos, and personal protection to avoid bites.
Prevention of mosquito breeding:
- Disposing of solid waste properly and removing artificial man-made habitats that can hold water and removing any standing water
- Covering, emptying and cleaning domestic water storage containers on a weekly basis
- Applying appropriate insecticides to water storage outdoor containers
Personal protection from mosquito bites:
- Using personal household protection measures, such as window screens, repellents, insecticide treated materials, coils and vaporizers. Keeping unscreened windows and doors closed.
- Wearing clothing that minimizes skin exposure to mosquitos
- Using natural repellents such as citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, or even vanilla
- These plants in the home can ward off mosquitoes: orange jasmine, venus fly trap, Spanish flag, night-blooming cestrum, citronella mosquito plant, mint, jessamine, pyrethrum.
To a TCM physician, dengue fever belongs to the category of warm diseases. Treatment methods include getting rid of warm pathogens and tackling the disease via prevention, qi, nutrition and blood. By using natural TCM treatment support, a patient may experience fewer symptoms and severity as well as a reduced length of active symptoms.
The stages of a warm disease like Dengue are the surface (Wei) stage, the qi stage, the nutritive (Tin) stage, and the blood stage. TCM uses specific herbs to deal with the different stages.