Dengue Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
December 01, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

Dengue Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

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Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that affects 100-400 million people every year. The virus that causes dengue is called the dengue virus (DENV); it is prevalent in most Asian countries and Latin America. 

Causes of Dengue Fever

The vector for the disease is female mosquitoes. As female mosquitoes require blood when laying eggs, they will often bite humans to fulfill that requirement. When a female mosquito bites a human, it will release saliva into the human to prevent clotting before they can get the blood. 

If the saliva released into the human body contains DENV, the human will be infected by it. Other modes of transmission include blood transfusions or during birth from the mother to the child. 

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Dengue is rarely ever fatal. Most people with dengue will exhibit flu-like symptoms for a few days till their symptoms get better:

High fever




Swollen glands

Pain behind eyes


Most cases of dengue are mild; however, in some instances, the situation can turn fatal. The symptoms of severe dengue include:


Constant vomiting

Severe abdominal pain

Difficulty breathing



Blood in feces and urine

Bleeding gums


Diagnosing Dengue Fever

If a patient exhibits the symptoms above, doctors may prescribe the following diagnostic tests to corroborate their initial diagnosis:


Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAATs)

NAAT is done on individuals less than or equal to 7 days after they exhibit the symptoms. This test confirms the presence of viral genomic material in the serum of the patient. 


Serologic Tests

Serologic tests are carried out later than NAATs. The antibodies IgG and IgM are produced in response to the virus. Serologic tests confirm the diagnosis if these antibodies are present in the patient’s serum. IgM is produced 5 days after the infection, whereas IgG is produced 2-4 weeks later.


Performing both tests gives doctors a better chance at detecting the virus, rather than only carrying out one test. 


Treatment for Dengue Fever

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment that can cure dengue. Doctors will likely recommend drugs for the symptoms that you may be suffering from. For mild cases, you will likely be asked to take pain relievers such as Acetaminophen. You should avoid the medicine that contains aspirin as it can cause bleeding. 


For severe cases, you will likely be admitted into the hospital where your symptoms will be monitored. In the hospital, as per the severity of your symptoms, you may be given IV fluid or blood transfusions to replace the lost blood.


Preventing Dengue Fever

The best way to prevent dengue is to ensure you do not become a victim of a female mosquito. You can do this by either making sure the mosquito population where you live is controlled or by getting vaccinated.


The vaccine, Dengvaxia, is given to an individual thrice over the course of 12 months; however, the vaccine itself may not be very effective. Here are a few other measures you can take to protect yourself from mosquito bites:


Use a mosquito repellant lotion, especially outdoors.

Wear clothes that cover your whole body.

Make sure your house has screened doors and windows without any holes or openings.

Remove any standing water in or near your residence, as water is the breeding ground for these mosquitoes. 


If you believe a loved one has any of the symptoms listed above, you should immediately contact a medical health professional. Shifa4U makes consulting with professionals across the country easier, by providing an online appointment platform for its users. Visit Shifa4U today.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.