Take Precautions As Dengue Can Be Deadly

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Every precaution should be taken to prevent dengue fever and its complications that can result in dengue haemorrhagic fever.

This admonition has come from Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karen Springer, who disclosed that, up to July 9, 2011, some 66 confirmed cases of dengue fever had been recorded. "Six of these cases were classified as dengue hemorrhagic fever and two deaths have been recorded so far for the year," she revealed.

Last year, 570 cases of dengue fever were confirmed at the Leptospirosis Laboratory, of which 32 were dengue haemorrhagic fever.

Dengue fever is an illness that affects all age groups- infants, young children and adults. The virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of the Aedes Aegypti female mosquito. The mosquito bites during the day, with peak activity two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.

These mosquitoes generally acquire the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person. After eight to 10 days, an infected mosquito is capable, during probing and blood feeding, of transmitting the virus to susceptible individuals for the rest of its life.

Some of the symptoms of dengue fever are sudden high fever, severe headaches; pain behind the eyes which worsens with eye movement, muscle and joint pain; loss of appetite, a measles-like rash on the chest and upper limbs and nausea and vomiting.

Dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can lead to death, presents with symptoms similar to dengue fever.?? These include severe continuous stomach pain, profuse sweating, bleeding from the nose, mouth and gums, skin bruising, frequent vomiting with or without food, extreme exhaustion, constant crying, excessive thirst, rapid weak pulse, difficulty breathing and fainting.

The Ministry of Health is advising that since these illnesses can rapidly become very serious and lead to a medical emergency, families should carefully monitor children or relatives displaying symptoms.

The complications associated with dengue fever usually appear between the third and fifth day of illness and, therefore, the patient should be watched for two days after the fever disappears.

In order to lower the fever, the patient should be bathed in tepid water and ice (in a pack or bag) or cold water should then be placed on the head or abdomen.

He/she should be given paracetamol exactly in the manner directed by their physician and absolutely NO ASPIRIN (acetylsalicylic acid) should be given.?? According to the Health Ministry, aspirin containing products such as phensic, disprin and alka-seltzer can worsen bleeding that a person may incur.

Additionally, large amounts of fluids (water, soups, milk and juices) along with the patients’ normal diet should be given and plenty of bed rest is recommended.

The physician should be contacted if the following symptoms occur: red spot or points on the skin; bleeding from the nose or gums; frequent vomiting, black stools, pale, cold or clammy skin and difficulty breathing as these may be an indication of dengue haemorrhagic fever.

The Ministry has further stressed that early diagnosis and prompt medical attention are required for persons suspected of having either dengue fever or dengue haemorrhagic fever.

jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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