Dengue fever is a viral disease that is infected by mosquitoes. In the worst case, it can progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever. All information about this disease.
Viral disease, dengue is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. Although it is mainly present in tropical environments, it also infects certain departments of France. The tiger mosquito, responsible for the transmission of the dengue virus, is established and active in 67 departments of the French metropolis in 2022according to figures from Public Health France.
But what is dengue? What is it due to and what are its symptoms? How long does it last? What is the treatement ? Here is what you need to know about this disease which can lead to severe complications.
Definition: what is dengue fever?
Formerly called “tropical flu“, dengue fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.
Every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it infects some 50 million people, mainly in tropical and subtropical areas, where it causes thousands of deaths. But it has also been raging in Europe since 2010.
the virus responsible for the disease is an arbovirus (an insect-borne microorganism) belonging to the genus flavivirus. It is now one of the most widespread throughout the world, but there are four strains which show great variability.
Hence the difficulty of fighting against dengue, which also benefits from a sadly effective mode of transmission: mosquitoes. These insects are indeed the main vector of the disease. Infected with the virus, specimens of the genus Aedes will infect humans by biting them and feeding on their blood.
Dengue fever symptoms
Dengue can come in several forms and affects babies, children and adults alike. The classical form appears after 2 to 7 days of incubation. It is characterized by the appearance of symptoms similar to flu-like syndrome :
- high fever
- joint and muscle pain
In some cases, a rash that looks a bit like measles may also appear.
After 3 to 4 days, a brief remission is observed but this generally precedes a intensification of symptoms and a recurrence of fever. After a period of about a week, the disease evolves spontaneously towards a cure without sequelae. However, it is often followed by a long recovery (a fortnight) with persistent fatigue. Although dengue fever is particularly debilitating, it is not considered severe, unlike dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Complications of dengue fever: dengue hemorrhagic fever
In some cases, the classic form progresses within a few days to severe complications called dengue hemorrhagic fever. This represents 1% of dengue fever cases worldwide, but it is very serious and can lead to death of the patient.
After the appearance of the first symptoms, this form is characterized by a persistent high fever as well as multiple hemorrhages, in particular gastrointestinal, cutaneous and cerebral. It often requires hospitalization but can progress quickly to complete recovery without sequelae.
However, in some patients (often children under 15), the infection may worsen and be accompanied by circulatory failure. We then speak of dengue “with shock syndrome”. A complication that often leads, without infusion, to the death of the patient.
Dengue fever treatment
Currently there is no no cure for dengue fever, in particular because of the great variability of the virus. In addition, in the majority of cases, the disease progresses spontaneously towards healing. The management of patients therefore essentially consists of a few measures intended to relieve symptoms : resting, oral rehydration, and administration of paracetamol-based drugs to relieve pain and fever.
In the case of more severe forms, a going to the emergency room is necessary to rehydrate patients intravenously or even to carry out a transfusion if necessary. In addition, there is currently no preventive treatment or dengue vaccine. To eradicate the disease, prevention is therefore essentially based on the fight against mosquitoes. The goal is to avoid bites by using mosquito nets and repellents.
On a larger scale, the objective is to reduce the insect population by eliminating egg-laying sites and possible proliferation areas such as stagnant water reserves. In recent years, another strategy has also been implemented, particularly in Brazil: creating transgenic male mosquitoes whose offspring do not reach adulthood.