Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a severe and life-threatening condition caused by the dengue virus, which is spread by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. DHF is a complication of dengue, and some patients develop it; it’s a severe and sometimes fatal form of the disease. Some patients may develop warning signs of severe illness by the time dengue fever subsides, usually three to seven days after symptom onset. Symptoms of DHF include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, a marked change in temperature from fever to hypothermia, and altered mental status. In addition, some patients develop early symptoms of shock, which include restlessness, cold clammy skin, rapid weak pulse, and low blood pressure, which is known as dengue shock syndrome.
Acute DHF may present with manifestations such as mucosal bleeding and plasma leaks such as ascites and pleural effusion. A systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats) below 90 mmHg is associated with higher mortality. Altered consciousness and unsatisfactory pulse rate are associated with severe consequences of DHF. In addition, a patient may suffer from multi-organ failure.
Early detection and timely treatment of this complication of dengue can greatly reduce the chances of death. It is important to monitor the patient’s heart rate, skin color, temperature, peripheral pulses, and blood pressure. We need to look for any evidence of bleeding in the skin and also for evidence of fluid retention.
Causes of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
DHF is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito species that is responsible for dengue transmission is called Aedes aegypti, which also transmits other arboviruses such as Zika and chikungunya. It breeds in clean stagnant water and is most active during the day.
Severity of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
DHF is characterized by high fever, rash, muscle pain, joint pain, and other symptoms commonly associated with dengue. However, it takes a more dangerous turn. Early symptoms of DHF are similar to dengue, but they can quickly progress to life-threatening complications such as severe bleeding, shock, and organ failure.
The severity of DHF depends on the individual’s immune system and the type of virus that caused the infection. Certain factors such as age, sex, and underlying medical conditions can also increase the risk of DHF. For example, people with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop severe dengue and DHF.
Treatment of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
There is no specific treatment for dengue or DHF. Treatment is supportive and involves the administration of fluids to prevent dehydration and blood transfusions to replace lost blood. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary, and patients may need to be placed on a ventilator or dialysis machine.
Prevention of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
Preventing dengue and DHF requires a concerted effort by individuals, communities, and public health officials. Mosquito control measures such as eliminating breeding sites and using insecticides can help reduce mosquito populations. Wearing long sleeves and pants, using mosquito repellent, and sleeping under mosquito nets can also reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe and life-threatening condition that can develop as a complication of dengue virus infection. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, a marked change in temperature from fever to hypothermia, and altered mental status. It is important to monitor patients for any evidence of bleeding in the skin and evidence of fluid retention. Treatment is supportive and involves the administration of fluids to prevent dehydration and blood transfusions to replace lost blood. Preventing dengue and DHF requires a concerted effort by individuals, communities, and public health officials.
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