Dengue: A continuing global threat

Dr Mohammed Sakeel, HOD of Emergency and Trauma, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, shares how to recognise Dengue symptoms, and how to stop the breeding of the mosquitoes in the vicinity


Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by dengue viruses. Each year, worldwide, an estimated 400 million people are infected with dengue virus; about 100 million get progressively sick, and 2.5% of those patients die. It is the fastest growing mosquito-borne infection in the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40% of the world’s population is at risk of being infected due to environmental conditions and burden of disease; people of all age groups are at risk. Most of the infected people have mild or no symptoms. Mild symptoms of dengue may be confused with other illnesses that cause fever and flu-like symptoms. The common symptoms are fever and one or more of the following:

  • A headache
  • Eye pain (typically behind the eyes)
  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain
  • Rashes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unusual bleeding (nose or gum bleed, small red spots under the skin, or unusual bruising)
  • Severe symptoms of dengue can be labelled as an emergency, recognise the warning signs early.

Warning signs

Watch for signs and symptoms of severe dengue, which develop in 24-48 hours after the initial fever goes away. If you or your family member develop any of these warning signs, consult a Physician or nearest Emergency Department immediately:

  • Severe stomach pain or vomiting (at least three vomiting episodes within 24 hours)
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
  • Drowsiness or irritability
  • Pale, cold, or clammy skin
  • Difficulty in breathing

Prevention of dengue

Many government organisations are taking stern actions to fight dengue. Current efforts focus on prevention, such as using insecticides or reducing potential egg-laying habitats for dengue mosquitoes. However, there is no vaccine to prevent dengue fever. Prevention of mosquito bite is very much essential if you are living in or travelling to a tropical region.

How you could protect yourself:

  • Stay away from populated residential areas, if possible
  • Use mosquito repellents, even indoors
  • When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Make sure the window and door screens are secure and hole-free
  • Use mosquito nets
  • Use insecticide sprays in dark corners (under the bed, sofa and behind curtains)
  • Loosen the soil in potted plants to prevent accumulation of stagnant water on the surface
  • Clear all stagnant water in and around your society
  • Turn over all water storage containers when empty and store them under a shelter

If you have symptoms of dengue, consult your doctor immediately. To reduce the mosquito population, get rid of places where mosquitoes can breed, these include old tires, cans, or flower pots.

Stay wise and keep your surroundings clean. Prevention of mosquito breeding can save you from this life-threatening disease.