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Explainer: Dengue Fever

Here's to finding our inner Juan Flavier
by Mikey Agulto | Aug 25, 2011
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Damn it, it’s just mind-boggling how the ever-so-dangerous dengue fever is grabbing national headlines once again, due to the possibility of another outbreak looming in all over the country this year. [firstpara] Is it time to panic? Not really, but that’s as long as you know how to fight – and avoid – dengue. Hence, our explainer on this widespread ordeal. Labanan ang dengue!

What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue, in simple terms, is a disease caused by a variety of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes (that’s lamok).

The disease usually strikes people with low levels of immunity, and while popular belief suggests that being a one-time dengue victim results to lifetime immunity to the disease, it is actually possible to contract a different type of virus that also causes dengue.

The possible outbreak in the Philippines is also said to be caused by the El Nino phenomenon, which is also responsible for the dengue outbreak back in 1998. Global warming, urbanization, and population growth could possibly be culprits as well.

Dengue has its share of nicknames, including “breakbone” and “dandy fever,” all of which were denoted from the act of contortion caused by the joint and muscle pain brought by the disease. And just when you thought dengue alone is treacherous enough, there is also such a thing as a dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is a much severe form of the viral illness.

How do I know if I have dengue?
You’ll know when your doctor tells you, for one. But it would help big time if you know the symptoms that could lead to dengue fever – headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands, bleeding gums, and most prominently, a body rash.

After being bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito, the incubation period ranges from three to fifteen days, which is when the symptoms mentioned above will start to appear. Body temperature will reach as high as 40 degrees, heart rate will lower, and blood pressure will drop at a fast pace. The whole nine weakening yards, basically.

Dengue by the numbers
Patients who recover from dengue usually progresses with no ongoing problems, but 5% of those who fail to seek treatment usually leads to fatal cases. The severe form of dengue however has a mortality rate of 26%.

Think it sounds small time? Convert it to the entire human population and you’ll see that dengue infects 50-100 million people a year, leading to approximately 12,500-25,000 deaths annually. Today, about 2.5 billion people are at risk from dengue.

Metro Manila has already recorded 11,260 dengue cases as of August 2011, up 109% compared to the same period in 2010. Metro Manila alone has already tallied 77 cases of death caused by the disease. At a rate this alarming, you should really pay attention to what you’re about to read next.

Next: how to fight dengue!

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