“MORE THAN MALARIA” by Dr. Odusanya

I am sure we all know that mosquitoes can transmit the organism that causes Malaria. This is one of the many disease-causing bugs that those tiny and annoying insects can transmit. Mosquitoes also transmit the organisms that cause DENGUE FEVER, YELLOW FEVER, FILARIASIS, WEST NILE VIRUS, JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS and so on. According to WHO, mosquito bites result in the death of more than a million people every year.

SOME TYPES OF MOSQUITOES AND THE DISEASES THEY TRANSMIT

  1. AEDES especially Aedes aegypti; Dengue fever, Yellow fever, Zika virus
  2. ANOPHELES especially the female Anopheles gambiae which transmits the bug that causes Malaria
  3. CULEX: West nile virus, Japanese encephalitis and so on.

WHAT IS DENGUE FEVER?

This is a disease caused by a family of viruses transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes.

CAN DENGUE FEVER KILL ME?

Yes, it can, especially when the symptoms are severe or when complications arise. Also, there is no specific curative medication. The treatment is largely supportive. Thankfully, most people with dengue recover fully without severe illness or complications.

WHERE ARE THE HIGH RISK AREAS?

Indonesia, Bangladesh, Parts of China, The Caribbean, Central and South America

WHAT CLINICAL FEATURES WILL I HAVE IF I HAVE DENGUE FEVER?

The symptoms range from mild to severe.

MILD: High fever, body rash that disappears and then reappears, headache, generalized body pains, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually disappear after a week.

MODERATE to SEVERE: Bleeding from the mouth, nose or gums, clammy skin, abdominal pain, weak pulse, intractable vomiting, sudden drop in blood pressure and disorientation.

HOW CAN I GET TREATED?

Dengue fever is caused by a virus. So, treatment is majorly supportive. This implies that the patient is treated based on the symptoms they have and not medications to kill the virus.

  1.  Dehydration caused by high fever and vomiting can be prevented by drinking water. Oral rehydration salt is essentially needed in the case of vomiting.
  2. Pain killers such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to relieve headaches and body pains.
  3. Blood transfusion in cases with major blood loss.

HOW CAN DENGUE FEVER BE DIAGNOSED?

The signs and symptoms of dengue fever are similar to other diseases like malaria and typhoid fever. In contending against this, blood tests like PCR and ELISA can be used.

PREVENTION

This is primarily achieved by the eradication of mosquitoes which is the vehicle for the virus. The eradication can then be achieved through:

  1. Drainage of artificial water storage containers
  2. Use of larvicide and insecticides
  3. Reducing mosquito bites, using repellants, adequate covering of the body and using insecticide-treated-mosquito nets.

KEY NOTES

  1. Mosquitoes don’t cause diseases. Nevertheless, they aid in the transportation of organisms that do.
  2. A mosquito bite can lead to several illnesses apart from malaria.
  3. Individuals with recent travel to areas of high risk should be screened for dengue fever as this disease can be severe if under-diagnosed.

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