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Dengue fever: some tips

December 30, 2013

DENGUE hemorrhagic fever is a lethal complication affecting mainly children. Its symptoms are high fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, severe itching, rash, pain behind the eyes, loss of appetite and fatigue.

It may may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death, and is called dengue shock syndrome.

Proper preventive measures should be taken by everyone such as avoiding water storage in open containers, using mosquito netting and repellents, wearing protective clothes, keeping the surrounding area free from standing water and avoiding exposure during dawn and dusk.

Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is concerned with relief of the symptoms.

Rest and fluid intake for hydration is important. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding.

The dengue virus mainly effects the platelet production. On becoming infected, a patient’s platelet count starts declining.

A platelet count below 100,000 per microlitre is alarming and requires immediate medical attention. A platelet count below 50,000 can be fatal.

Traditionally, papaya leaf juice has been found to be a useful treatment. Some recent studies show the effect of papaya leaf juice in curing the dengue fever. The leaves are high in complex vitamins that might help bone marrow to rapidly increase blood platelet production.

The leaf extract increases the white blood cells and blood platelets and normalises the clotting profile which are the main aspects affected when infected with dengue.

The leaf extract also helps repair the damage caused to liver cells by dengue fever.

As dengue cure is not yet accepted as scientifically proven in most countries, patients who have been identified as dengue-infected should first seek medical attention and take the juice along with the prescribed medication.

Public awareness, proper vector control and vigilant surveillance are critical to keep the infection rather low and to prevent the spread of dengue fever.

Dr Shireen Nazir