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Posted on Nov 16, 2016 |

All you need to know about dengue

All you need to know about dengue

Dengue cases are on the rise again. While it is natural to feel panicked, you can minimise your chances of contracting dengue by educating yourself on preventive measures. Knowing how to recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease and knowledge of the right disease management and treatment approaches are other requisites for being well-armed in your battle against dengue.

Cause of dengue

Dengue is caused by the dengue virus. The dengue virus spreads through the bite of an infected female mosquito of the Aedes aegypti species, and to a lesser degree, from the bite of a female mosquito from the Aedes albopictus species. The mosquito can transmit dengue to other humans after 8-10 days of biting a dengue-infected person. Dengue is not transmitted from person-to-person.

The Aedes genus of mosquitoes is distinctive owing to black and white markings on their body and legs. They are active and bite during daytime. The peak biting periods are early in the morning and in the evening, just before dusk. The most common biting spots are just below the elbow and below the knee.


Dengue symptoms can be seen 4-6 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The patient gets sudden, high-grade fever as well as some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Severe muscle and joint pain
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A red rash starting on the chest, back or stomach and spreading to the limbs and face

Sometimes, a patient contracts a more severe form of dengue, known as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF). The patient may display signs and symptoms of severe dengue 3-7 days after the onset of the typical dengue symptoms. The symptoms of DHF include a drop in temperature below 38°C/100.4°F. Other symptoms may include easy bruising, abdominal pain, frequent vomiting, respiratory distress, black stools and bleeding from body orifices (nose, mouth and ears).

Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) is a severe complication of dengue characterised by abnormally low blood pressure, rapid weak pulse and bleeding under the skin.

If you experience any of the symptoms of dengue, DHF or DSS, you must visit a doctor immediately. The doctor would prescribe requisite diagnostic tests and symptomatic treatment.


Dengue fever is an illness that resolves spontaneously, with or without specific treatment, with a very low mortality rate. The mortality rate of dengue haemorrhagic fever, on the other hand, is 2-5% with treatment and as high as 50% without treatment.

As dengue is a viral illness, there exist no medicines or antibiotics to cure it. Symptomatic treatment is administered to provide relief from dengue symptoms. Paracetamol, tepid sponging and fanning can be used to bring fever down. Aspirin and Ibuprofen must be avoided as they can increase the risk of bleeding.

To avoid dehydration, plenty of fluids such as water, juice, soup and milk must be consumed. Intravenous fluid resuscitation may be required in patients who are unable to tolerate oral fluids and are vomiting frequently. IV fluid replacement is also required in patients who continue to have a high haematocrit level despite consuming fluids.

Patients with DHF and DSS may require fresh frozen plasma and platelet transfusion. According to the Indian Medical Association, “Death in patients with dengue fever is due to dehydration and organ failure and not due to fall in platelet counts. The rising haematocrit can be treated by any fluid replacement. Fall in platelets is self-limiting and requires no replacement unless associated with active bleeding.” The IMA also says, “Giving platelet transfusions or increasing platelets counts without taking care of dehydration will cause no good.”


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Mosquito control is the primary aspect of controlling the spread of this disease. The Aedes mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant, preferably clean water. They can fly up to 400m to find stagnant water. One must avoid water stagnation by cleaning out coolers, vases and other containers and objects in which water might collect. The Aedes mosquitoes’ favourite sites for laying eggs also include used tires and plastic containers.

Remember, a mosquito does not need a lot of water to lay eggs. Even stagnant water in a small plastic bottle cap may be enough!

Public health mosquito control programs target killing adult mosquitoes by spraying insecticides.

Dengue Care Plan

Although following the right preventive measures tends to minimise your chances of contracting dengue, it is wise to be prepared for an alternate scenario. There are certain factors that amplify the risk of contracting dengue. One of these is that dengue is mostly present in urban and semi-urban areas, implying that it is not a disease sustained by lack of hygiene. Also, the Aedes mosquitoes bite during daytime. Most of us use mosquito repellents and nets liberally at night but are too occupied to take caution during the day.

Dengue treatment can be costly. The dengue test alone, although capped by state authorities at Rs.600 in certain states, continues to cost between 1,200- Rs.2,500 at many private laboratories. Consultation fees and pharmaceutical expenses can add several thousands to the outpatient treatment cost.

In case of hospitalisation, drugs, platelet procurement & transfusion, room rent and other hospitalisation costs can together amount to Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 1 lakh or more in a private hospital. In such a case, having an exclusive health insurance cover for dengue can help cover the unexpected costs.

Apollo Munich Health Insurance, a health insurance venture between Apollo Hospitals and Munich Health, launched a first of its kind exclusive dengue health insurance plan called Dengue Care in July, 2015.

Dengue Care offers two sum insured options of Rs.50,000 and Rs.1 lakh at affordable premiums of Rs. 444 and Rs. 578 respectively. Dengue Care Plan does not only cover hospitalisation costs but outpatient treatment up to Rs.10,000 as well. As not all dengue patients need hospitalisation, we deemed it practical to include this outpatient treatment benefit in our plan.

Get Dengue Care for yourself and your family and secure yourself from the rising treatment costs of dengue.

Be vigilant and safe. Here’s wishing you a dengue-free life!

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