Following a dengue fever scare for 26/11 accused Ajmal Kasab and Yash Chopra's death due to it, attention has now been brought back to the deadly viral disease spread by mosquitoes. Should you be worried about the health of yourself and your loved ones? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the condition...
How is dengue fever caused?
Dengue is caused from the bite of a virus carrying Aedes Aegypti mosquito. It can also be caused due to infected blood transfusions, organ donations and mother-to-child transmissions.
Should you be worried?
Yes, and for several reasons. To begin with, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito commonly lays eggs in artificial containers and even half a cup of water that's left unattended for a while, can become a breeding ground. Also, there is often a seasonal surge in cases reported during the month of October and both Mumbai and Delhi have had already seen over 600 diagnosed cases this year. Dengue fever is also not only a problem of the masses - a point driven home by Chopra's death. It can affect anyone - from slumdwellers to the uber-rich living in skyscrapers.
Yash Chopra died last month, after being hospitalized for dengue fever. Photo: AFP
What are the symptoms?
Abnormally high fever accompanied by chills, headache, lower backache and skin rash. It is also characterised by severe bone and joint pain - a symptom that earns it the nickname 'break-bone fever'
How is it treated?
There is no specific anti-viral medication to treat dengue fever (and no vaccine to prevent it either). The symptoms can be relieved with drugs like paracetemol for fever and pain killers for bone and joint ache. Patients are advised to stock up on fluids to prevent dehydration and blood transfusions may be necessary in case platelet counts slip dangerously below normal levels. Hospitalization may be required if symptoms persist or in the case of dengue hemorrhagic fever (a more severe form of infection).
Ajmal Kasab was believed to be suffering from dengue fever, but blood test reports have come out negative. Photo: IBNLive
How can it be prevented?
Charity towards yourself and your loved ones starts at home and it is therefore imperative to ensure that there are no stagnant collections of water in and around the house. Civic workers say that flower pots and broken cups are common breeding grounds found in homes. A fever should also not be ignored and brought immediately to the attention of a doctor if it persists for more than 24 hours.
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