Dengue, the deadly six-letter word every parent fears each time his child is down with fever, especially during the monsoons, is on the rise yet again especially in the state of Tamil Nadu, which has witnessed a spurt in the number of dengue cases.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the maximum number of cases has been reported in Kerala with 15,612 cases followed by Tamil Nadu with more than 11,000 cases so far in 2017. Bengaluru has registered a shocking 37 per cent of the total cases reported in Karnataka as of 16 August 2017, according to an article published in The Times Of India. While government bodies are doing their best to control the spread of dengue, what can we as individuals do to safeguard ourselves and protect our children from this life-threatening disease? Here’s what you should know.
Renowned paediatrician and Founder of The Pediatric Network, Dr Atish Laddad, describes the symptoms parents need to look for when they suspect their child to have dengue and suggests ways to prevent and treat the disease.
Causes of dengue
Dengue is caused by the dengue virus and is spread by mosquitoes. The female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in stagnant water, transmits the disease from one infected person to another. Children, especially those with low immunity, are at significant risk for dengue infection.
The symptoms last between 3 and 10 days after infection. Your child may develop high fever accompanied by headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain, fatigue and skin rashes. Refer him to a medical practitioner on noticing any of these symptoms.
It is important to remember that there is no specific medicine for dengue. The only solution is to treat the symptoms, which will focus on:
- Consumption of plenty of fluids like oral rehydration solution, fresh juice, soups and coconut water. This prevents dehydration caused by vomiting and high fever.
- Antipyretics (medication for fever): Acetaminophen helps decrease pain and fever. Avoid aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. The risk of bleeding complications increases due to these drugs.
- Lukewarm sponging is advised to reduce fever.
- It is very important for your child to take complete bed rest.
Related content: To know more about protecting your child from dengue, click here.
Symptoms requiring emergency admission
When your child does not respond to initial treatment and goes into shock or shows unstable vital signs, he needs immediate medical attention. Admit him to a hospital if he exhibits any of these symptoms:
- Bleeding from nose or gums, or from any other site
- Red or purple spots on the skin
- Black or bloody stools, nausea or vomiting
- Severe abdominal pain accompanied by frequent vomiting
- Breathlessness, lethargy, drowsiness, confusion or seizures
- Pale, cold or clammy hands and feet
Related video: To know more about managing the disease in children, click here.
Treatment of severe dengue
When the warning signs are ignored and dengue treatment is not started quickly enough, your child’s condition may turn serious. This usually happens about 3 to 7 days from the onset of symptoms. Treatment comprises the following:
- If platelet count decreases, platelet transfusion is recommended
- If he is in shock or is very ill, he will require oxygen support
- Suppositories are used to lower fever and reduce pain
- He will require intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement to manage fluid loss, prevent dehydration and maintain blood pressure
- Blood transfusion may be required to replace blood loss
Here’s what you can do to ensure your child is protected from the deadly virus-carrying mosquito.
- Ensure your child is clothed in full pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Rid your surroundings of things where water can collect and mosquitoes can breed including old tires, unused buckets, empty flower pots, coconut shells, etc.
- Use anti-mosquito spray at home.
- Use mosquito net treated with insecticide.
- Keep areas under the cot, within closets, behind curtains and in bathrooms clean as the dengue-causing mosquito is found in dark, cool places.
- To prevent mosquitoes from entering your house, close the windows at dawn and dusk (active mosquito times).
- Use protective nets on your windows to keep out the mosquitoes.
Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial factors in the recovery of the disease. Ensure you follow these preventive measures and spread the word in your community so that the young and old alike are safeguarded from this disease.