Dengue fever: The small but lethal mosquito bite | Africa | DW | 02.09.2019
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Health

Dengue fever: The small but lethal mosquito bite

Often mistaken for Malaria, Dengue fever can be fatal if left unchecked. Since there is no cure for the mosquito-borne disease, only prevention against mosquito bites, early detection and medical care can help.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection spread by the Aedes mosquito. There are four types of the Dengue virus. Upon recovery from one of the Dengue viruses, the body develops immunity against that particular Dengue virus. However, a second infection can be more severe.

Initially Dengue fever was prevalent in Asia and Latin America but currently about half the world’s population is at risk. The Dengue fever is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Kenia Kind schäft unter Moskitonetz Malaria (AP)

Is Dengue fever deadly? Yes, according to the World Health Organization, if left untreated, Dengue fever can become severe and eventually lead to death. Presently, there is no specific treatment against dengue. Only early detection and proper medical care can save life.

Dengue mistaken for Malaria

Most people who suffer from Dengue fever often confuse it with Malaria. Sometimes, even health officials make that mistake. To tell the difference we need to be aware of the symptoms.

A dengue infection manifests itself after 4-10 days  following a bite from an infected Aedes mosquito.  Apart from high temperature, dengue fever symptoms include: Severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or a rash.

There is a vaccine against Dengue fever but the vaccine known as Dengvaxia is somewhat controversial.It must only be used in endemic areas and should be given to people between the ages of 9-45. In some cases, it has been associated with increased risk of severe dengue in those who experience their first natural dengue infection.

There are other Dengue fever vaccines in clinical trials but the difficult thing in as far as vaccines are concerned is that an effective one must protect against all four types of Dengue fever.

Like with all vaccines, it is important to first ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of the vaccine.

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