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Top 7 dengue myths busted for you

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection which is spread by Aedes mosquitoes. © Shutterstock

According to the WHO, around 390 million people get affected by dengue infections every year globally. Read on to know about the condition and various myths associated with it.

Written by Juhi Kumari |Published : September 16, 2019 11:58 AM IST

Dengue, a mosquito borne disease is making news both in and outside India these days. In Telangana, more than 4,500 cases have been reported this year since January. According to the state officials, the number of dengue cases have spiked up since August. Now, if we talk about our neighboring state Pakistan, it is facing dengue fever outbreak. If reports are to be believed, around 59,739 people are affected with this deadly fever. Looking at these increasing numbers, it seems quite important to talk about the condition.

What is dengue fever?

As mentioned earlier, it is a mosquito-borne viral infection which is spread by Aedes mosquitoes. Also known as break bone fever, dengue is characterized by mild to severe symptoms. They usually take 4 to 7 days after the mosquito bite to be recognizable. Some of the mild signs of dengue fever include aching muscle and joints, high fiver, vomiting, body rashes, intense headache, pain behind the eyes etc. If proper treatment is not taken, these symptoms can gradually worsen causing internal bleeding, sensitive stomach, weak pulse, significant drop in blood platelets, disorientation etc. These severe symptoms can in fact lead to death of a patient suffering from dengue.

As there is no vaccine available for the diseases, it is important to prevent the condition as much as possible. In case you get the infection, it is advised to get medical help as soon as possible. Notably, it is quite confusing to diagnose the condition as its symptoms mimic those of other common infections like malaria, typhoid, leptospirosis etc. You doctor may ask your medical and travel history. You also have to go through certain tests. As far as treatment of dengue fever is concerned, there is no specific treatment for it. Basically, symptoms are addressed to increase the recovery rate of the patient. In case you are suffering from this condition, your doctor will ask you to increase your fluid intake to avoid dehydration.

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Demystifying dengue myths

There are lots of myths and misconceptions surrounding almost every condition and dengue is no exception. These myths can be confusing. Here, we help you separate fact and fiction to help manage the condition well.

Myth 1: Dengue can be transmitted through any mosquito.

Fact: It is not true at all. As mentioned above, it is only transmitted through female Aedes mosquitoes. In fact, these mosquitos can transfer the infection only when they themselves are infected. Notably, during their feeding period, they usually bite more than one person during the day.

Myth 2: Dengue fever is mild and harmless.

Fact: There are both mild and severe cases of dengue. You may experience mild symptoms if you get proper treatment on time. Delayed treatment may lead to complications like breathing difficulty, liver failure, confusion, internal bleeding etc. These symptoms may also lead to the death of patient.

Myth 3: Having low platelet count always means that you have dengue.

Fact: Low platelet count is one of the significant symptoms of dengue fever. But that doesn't mean that this condition always is a sign of dengue. If you have fever apart from drop in platelet count, your chances of suffering from dengue is quite significant. However, if only the latter is in the picture you may be suffering from other infections like yellow fever, leptospirosis, chikungunya, HIV, scrub typhus etc.

Myth 4: Being affected by dengue once makes you immune to it for the rest of your life.

Fact: Well, dengue virus has four serotypes namely DEN-1,2,3, and 4. In case you got infected by the serotype 1, you will be immune to that particular serotype for the rest of your life and not the other three as well. Other serotypes of dengue can potentially affect you. In fact, the next time you will get the infection, it will be more severe than the previous one. This is what science says. The calculation states that a person can potentially get infected by dengue fever four times in his/her lifetime.

Myth 5: Dengue fever can be cured by using papaya leaf.

Fact: Well, papaya leaf can be used to manage the symptoms of the condition. But it cannot treat dengue fever. Various studies have found that use of papaya leaf can lead to significant increase in platelet count in patients suffering from dengue fever.

Myth 6: Only children and older individuals can get dengue fever.

Fact: Factors like age, gender, and your socioeconomic condition do not decide your risk of getting affected by dengue fever. Anybody can be affected by it. What really increase your risk of developing dengue fever, includes living in tropical regions and having prior dengue fever.

Myth 7: Keeping your house clean can totally prevent you from getting dengue fever.

Fact: Though keeping your house clean is considered as one of the preventive measures to keep dengue at bay, it does not guarantee that you will be away from the infection. Keeping area around your house, clean is also advisable. In case, somebody in your neighborhood has breeding ground for mosquitoes (stagnant water), infected Aedes mosquito may fly in your house and bite you. Notably, the flight range of this mosquito is 400 meters. Therefore, it is always said that preventing the onset of dengue can only be a collective effort and not of an individual. Everyone should be aware about the infection and its breeding grounds to keep the infection at bay.

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