What is the best treatment for dengue fever?

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There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Fever reducers and pain killers can be taken to control the symptoms of muscle aches and pains, and fever. The best options to treat these symptoms are acetaminophen or paracetamol.

  • Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection, found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.
  • The virus responsible for causing dengue, is called dengue virus (DENV). There are four DENV serotypes, meaning that it is possible to be infected four times.
  • Severe dengue is a leading cause of serious illness and death in some Asian and Latin American countries. It requires management by medical professionals.
  • While many DENV infections produce only mild illness, DENV can cause an acute flu-like illness. Occasionally this develops into a potentially lethal complication, called severe dengue.
  • There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue. Early detection of disease progression associated with severe dengue, and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates of severe dengue to below 1%.
  • The global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world’s population is now at risk. There are an estimated 100-400 million infections each year.
  • Dengue prevention and control depends on effective vector control measures. Sustained community involvement can improve vector control efforts substantially.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that has rapidly spread in all regions of WHO in recent years. Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, Ae. albopictus. These mosquitoes are also vectors of chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses. Dengue is widespread throughout the tropics, with local variations in risk influenced by rainfall, temperature, relative humidity and unplanned rapid urbanization.

Dengue causes a wide spectrum of disease. This can range from subclinical disease (people may not know they are even infected) to severe flu-like symptoms in those infected. Although less common, some people develop severe dengue, which can be any number of complications associated with severe bleeding, organ impairment and/or plasma leakage. Severe dengue has a higher risk of death when not managed appropriately. Severe dengue was first recognized in the 1950s during dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand. Today, severe dengue affects most Asian and Latin American countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children and adults in these regions.

Dengue is caused by a virus of the Flaviviridae family and there are four distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4). Recovery from infection is believed to provide lifelong immunity against that serotype. However, cross-immunity to the other serotypes after recovery is only partial, and temporary. Subsequent infections (secondary infection) by other serotypes increase the risk of developing severe dengue.

Dengue has distinct epidemiological patterns, associated with the four serotypes of the virus. These can co-circulate within a region, and indeed many countries are hyper-endemic for all four serotypes. Dengue has an alarming impact on both human health and the global and national economies. DENV is frequently transported from one place to another by infected travellers; when susceptible vectors are present in these new areas, there is the potential for local transmission to be established.