By Madelyn Bayles
Dengue, a disease that infects as many as 400 million people per year, may be caused by four different viruses (About Dengue, 2019). These viruses, which are all part of the genus Flavivirus, are known as DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4 (Dengue Viruses). It is hypothesized that these viruses originated among various primates and only began infecting humans 500 to 1,000 years ago (Dengue Viruses).
The typical structure of a dengue virus (Dengue Viruses)
Dengue is spread by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus) (About Dengue). These species are known for spreading many diseases besides dengue, including chikungunya and Zika (About Dengue).
The mosquito species Aedes aegypti (Stelloh, 2016)
Dengue’s symptoms include a high fever of about 104°F (Dengue fever: Symptoms & causes, 2018). Additionally, sufferers may experience bone, muscle, and joint pain; headaches; nausea; rashes; swollen glands; and vomiting (Dengue fever: Symptoms & causes). In severe cases, individuals may experience abdominal pain; bleeding from the gums or nose; bloody stool, urine, or vomit; clammy skin; difficulty breathing; exhaustion; and other symptoms (Dengue fever: Symptoms & causes).
A rash characteristic of dengue (Prinsloo, 2014)
There is no particular treatment for dengue (Dengue fever: Diagnosis & treatment, 2018). It is recommended that sufferers keep hydrated, and, if necessary, patients may use pain relievers such as acetaminophen in (Dengue fever: Diagnosis & treatment). However, certain pain relievers (including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium) should be avoided, as they can worsen bleeding problems (Dengue fever: Diagnosis & treatment).
A vaccine against dengue, Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) is licensed by Sanofi Pasteur, and around five others are currently being developed (Questions and Answers, 2018). Unfortunately, there has been significant controversy surrounding CYD-TDV. In 2016, the Filipino government pushed to vaccinate about one million children with CYD-TDV (Doucleff, 2019). However, it was found that the vaccine negatively affected some of the children who had not suffered from dengue in the past (Doucleff). After this information came to light, protests were held, the Congress of the Philippines scrutinized the use of the vaccine, and the deaths of hundreds of children were investigated (Doucleff).
Dengue occurs in more than 100 countries, though it is particularly prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas, including Thailand (Dengue).
Dengue in Southeast Asia (Dengue)
As of May 10th, dengue hemorrhagic fever, a severe form of dengue, has claimed twenty-seven lives in Thailand this year (Dengue fever alert, 2019). This is the greatest fatality rate in five years (Dengue fever alert). Dr. Supakit Sirilak, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry deputy permanent secretary, has urged health agencies to ready themselves to fight the disease (Dengue fever alert).
A recent headline about dengue’s high death toll in Thailand (Dengue fever alert)
People wishing to avoid dengue should take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including applying DEET-containing insect repellant, disposing of water containers near residences, and wearing long sleeves (Thailand, 2019).
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