In Dar es Salaam, one of the most recent outbreak of dengue occurred during the rainy seasons of the year 2014.
Most of us immediately channel our thinking to ‘malaria’ when someone talks about mosquitoes. But in fact, these small insects also spread another very common and potentially deadly infection that is referred to as ‘Dengue fever’.
Dengue fever is an infectious disease caused by the dengue virus and transmitted by mosquitoes. It usually occurs in warm areas including tropical and sub-tropical countries like Tanzania and in a small number of cases, may even lead to death of the patient.
The condition is quite similar to other mosquito-borne infections like yellow fever, Zika virus and malaria to a certain extent.
Burden of the disease
The incidence of dengue has grown drastically over the last few decades.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), before 1970, only 9 countries had suffered from dengue epidemics but currently, dengue is endemic in more than 100 different countries in different parts of the world including Africa, the Americas, the East Mediterranean, West Pacific regions as well as South-East Asia. The WHO also mentions that about half the world’s population amounting to a massive 3.8 billion people in 128 different countries are now at risk of being infected with the virus.
The number of dengue cases annually according to WHO are usually underreported but a recent estimate puts the number at around 390 million. This massive number shows just how important it is to know about dengue and to try and avoid being infected by it.
Most people affected with dengue virus are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms.
Symptoms of infection with the dengue virus usually start appearing around 3 to 14 days after infection and are similar to symptoms of malaria and yellow fever.
The symptoms may include skin rash, vomiting, nausea, headache, muscle pains, high fever as well as joint pains. In a small percentage of the cases, dengue fever progresses and becomes a life-threatening condition.
The symptoms at this severe stage include bleeding, low platelet levels and extremely low blood pressure, which can eventually result into death of the patient.
Severe dengue is actually more common in babies and children especially well nourished children in contrast to other infections, which affect malnourished and under-nourished children who have low immune system statuses.
• Prevent accumulation of standing water, which is primary habitat for mosquitoes, adding insecticides to open water areas that can kill the mosquitoes and possibly even introducing certain fish species in water bodies that feed on mosquitoes.
• You can protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing clothes that expose minimum skin area, sleeping under mosquito nets at night and by applying insect repellants, which drive away the deadly insects. These steps will drastically reduce your chances of being bitten and infected by mosquitoes.
These steps will also reduce your chances of being infected with yellow fever, Zika virus as well as the deadly malaria since they are all transmitted by mosquitoes as well.
For people who have already been infected by the dengue virus, there are no medication to treat the virus however; the symptoms can be controlled by certain medication. Consult a qualified medical professionals for this. -