What is dengue?
Dengue is a viral infection spread by a species of mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and is manifested by a variety of diseases ranging from flu-like illness (mild form) to dengue hemorrhagic fever ( severe/deadly form).
How can it affect your pregnancy?
The disease is alarming as the infected pregnant mother can transmit the virus to the growing baby in her womb during the course of the pregnancy or at birth. The baby born may suffer from low birth weight and in some cases, you may also see pre-eclampsia, premature birth, or stillbirth. If you contract dengue at the end of your pregnancy, you may also bleed profusely during your delivery (hemorrhage) and may require a blood transfusion.
What are the symptoms
The common symptoms seen are:
- high fever (sudden in onset)
- a severe headache
- pain behind the eyes (worsens with the movements of the eye)
- nausea and/or vomiting
- bone, joint, and muscle pains
- mild bleeding in nose and gums
- loss of appetite and taste perception
- red patches (measles-like rash) on the chest and/or upper limbs
Note: Most viral diseases show the above symptoms. A blood test is a must to confirm an infection with dengue.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF):
In some cases, the infection may progress into dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). This can lead to fatal complications if not detected and treated early. Warning signs indicating a severe disease is seen three to seven days after the main symptoms. These include:
- reduction of the fever
- continuous and sharp abdominal pain
- blood in your vomit (at times the frequency is continuous)
- bleeding from the gums
- fast breathing
Dengue shock syndrome:
- weak and rapid pulse
- cold and clammy skin
- reduced urinary output
- dry mouth
- rapid breathing
Can dengue be treated during pregnancy?
There is no vaccine or known antiviral treatment for dengue. You can only treat the symptoms by:
- Taking a lot of rest
- Keeping yourself hydrated continuously
- Paracetamol (as per the doctor’s prescription) is safe during pregnancy to ease the discomfort
Most of the times, people who suffer from dengue, recover from the infection within 2 to 3 weeks. Proper care must be taken to prevent progression to the severe form of the infection. However, the symptoms still persist for few more weeks after the clearance of the virus in the body.
Note: After the fever subsides, if you have sharp abdominal pain and/or vomiting immediately go to your hospital. If DHF is detected, fluid replacement therapy (put on a drip) is a must. Earlier the treatment, the better.
Also, your blood pressure and platelet count are estimated. If your platelet count is found to be lower than the optimal level (a condition known as thrombocytopenia), a blood transfusion is suggested to prevent further complications. Treatment is must in severe cases of dengue as without treatment it may prove to be fatal to both the mother and the child.
Dengue-proofing yourself during your pregnancy:
You may use a lot of “chemical repellants” which can be safely used during your pregnancy. The only disadvantage they pose is that they have to be applied to your skin every 3- 4 hours. Also, applying a thin coat would be more effective than putting a thick layer. It is the frequency with which you put that makes the repellent more effective.
Apart from that what are the other ways that you can dengue-proof yourself and your surroundings?
Ward away mosquitoes:
Drain and clear that open drain near your house to keep away mosquitoes. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. That goes for any stagnant/still water in flower-pots, cans, and pot-holes.
DUSK TILL DAWN:
Mosquitoes that spread the disease are more active at night times. So, precautionary methods should be done mostly during these hours.
We don’t mean to sound prudish here. But wearing long sleeves and fully covered clothes offer protection. Light and cotton clothes preferable.
Mosquito nets, bed nets, meshes on the doors and windows offer a physical barrier to the mosquitoes to enter your home.
Cold temperatures are less likely to attract mosquitoes