by Dr. Madhav Prabhu
Dengue is back in Belagavi again and with that is the claims of miracle cures and prevention strategies. Well, most of it is fake. Let’s first understand what dengue is.
Dengue is a viral infection caused by a virus belonging to flavivirus family, it is spread by the mosquito called Aedes Aegypti also called tiger mosquito because of the characteristic black and white stripes it bears.
The mosquito is unique add it can bite even in the morning hours. The breeding site for this mosquito is dirty and accumulated water in bins and waste. The mosquito is much smaller in size than other mosquitoes. So we need to understand that it is not merely the bite of the mosquito but the bite of the mosquito carrying the virus that spreads the disease.
Dengue is because of an increased response of the human body to the virus and it is because of a good immunity, so if anyone claims to boost your immunity to treat dengue they are doing exactly the opposite.
Dengue has three prominent manifestations,
- One is dengue fever which is like any other viral infection and self terminates on its own without any severe manifestations within a few days.
- The second manifestation is dengue hemorrhagic fever which is what most people know about, it is diagnosed when in the background of dengue infection the patient develops a drop in the platelets. Platelets are the cells which prevent bleeding and hence the patient who has low platelets will most likely bleed. Here we have to understand that platelet transfusion is required only when the platelet drops below twenty thousand according to WHO recommendation or in those patients who have bleeding manifestation like black stools or reddish spots on the skin. The doctor may advise transfusion if the rate of fall is very rapid.
Now let us understand that the human body is so beautifully adopted that sometimes even with a platelet count of five thousand patients do not bleed if there are no injuries. So it is necessary to understand that mere low value of platelet should not scare a patient, avoid transfusion at the whims and fancies of doctors.
- Third and most serious manifestation is dengue shock syndrome where there are tissue damage and leakage of plasma in the body which is very serious and can cause death, this is however very rare and I’d likely if the patient gets dengue for the second time.
There is no cure for dengue
The marketed pill Caripill or similar pills of Carica Papaya are manufactured by Pharma companies and are readily available in almost every medical shop in every city, so it’s not a big secret or rare commodity.
This pill or papaya juice may help increase platelets, but not cure disease in forty-eight hours as some social media posts claim. You have to understand that every viral disease has a definite course and the disease by itself gets cured without medicine in a few days except for a few viral diseases like HIV.
Remember common cold, flu, sometimes gastro in children, well most of them are viral and require only symptomatic treatment as there is no medicine, so also with dengue.
Many alternative systems claim cures but most of them have no recorded proof and are almost never effective. Remember last year the health authorities caught people giving water as dengue drops.
We need to understand that in 90% of the cases dengue is beginning stage and will not harm you provided you maintain proper hydration.
The part that the best treatment is prevention has somehow been lost in the chorus of fake remedies and the real prevention lies in the cleanliness of our surroundings, the mosquito does not breed, the disease does not spread.
When it comes to vaccination, there are several trials on vaccines being done by WHO in collaboration with other agencies in India and South East Asia, a few of them have been promising and will soon be available in the market, till then there is no effective vaccine, well at least there is no proof documented.
You have to understand that medicines are approved by food and drug authority after medicines and vaccines undergo testing under government supervision and only then after requisite trails the drug is marketed in the country once the safety is established.
Now there are also other diseases which may present just like dengue with a fall in platelets, like the new zika virus cases in Bengaluru. So every time platelet drop it need not be dengue.
The best way to prevent dengue is to keep your surroundings clean, don’t be scared of dengue, it does not harm most. Treatment is only supportive and there is no cure.
Don’t fall to false rumors of miracle cute tablets and use mosquito repellents even in the mornings. The responsibly of the health authorities also need focus and real prevention lies there because if the municipal authorities can keep the city clean, dengue can be eradicated.
Understand dengue, don’t panic and don’t believe or spread rumors.
About the Author: Dr. Madhav Prabhu M.B.B.S, M.D (General Medicine) is a Consultant in KLE’s Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital, Teaches in JNMC and has experience with treating dengue. He is also part of the Dengue vaccine initiative supported by WHO.