Dengue seems to rear its ugly head during and after every monsoon season in India. Although the disease affects millions globally and has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the fastest-spreading mosquito-borne disease in the world, awareness about the disease appears to be lacking. 

Let’s find out more about dengue, and dispel the most common misconceptions associated with it. 

Dengue fever, commonly known only as dengue, is a mosquito-borne illness. It is caused by the bite of female Aedes mosquitoes which carry the dengue virus in their saliva. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites an individual with the dengue virus present in their blood. 

The most common symptom of dengue is fever with one or more symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, rashes, and pains (muscle, bone, or joint pain). Pain behind the eyes is also frequently reported by patients. Symptoms usually appear around 4 to 6 days after infection and last for up to 10 days.

Dengue can be confused with other illnesses that cause a fever (such as chikungunya and malaria), so if you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms, make sure you get yourself tested for dengue. 

Dengue is diagnosed on the basis of your chief complaints including symptoms, travel history, and blood tests confirming the presence of the dengue virus. There is no treatment available for dengue yet. Medications may bring relief from symptoms such as fever and pain. 

Dengue subsides in around 7 to 10 days in most people. However, it may develop into a more severe disease called dengue haemorrhagic fever or into dengue shock syndrome in some cases. 

Now let’s have a look at the most common myths associated with dengue.

Myth 1: Dengue affects one person only once.

Fact: There is no truth in this statement. Dengue is caused by four different serotypes of the dengue virus (DENV-1 to 4) and infection with one serotype gives lifelong immunity against that type only. 

So, you can get dengue again if you are infected by other serotypes of the dengue virus

Myth 2: Papaya leaf juice cures dengue.

Fact: There is no definite cure available for dengue yet. Though papaya leaf juice extract is being studied for its effect on dengue and has been shown to improve blood platelet count in patients, it is considered to treat only one of the symptoms of the disease and does not treat the disease itself. 

Myth 3: Only children and older individuals can get dengue. 

Fact: Anybody can get dengue, irrespective of age or health status. Not only children or older adults, young individuals can also get dengue and develop severe symptoms. 

Living in tropical regions and having already been infected with the dengue virus (a different serotype) increases your risk of getting dengue. 

Myth 4: Any mosquito can transmit dengue. 

Fact: Only female Aedes mosquitoes, if they are already infected with the dengue virus, can cause dengue in people. 

It is also important to note that the mosquitoes that cause dengue usually bite during the daytime. 

Myth 5: Dengue is prevalent only during the monsoons. 

Fact: In India, monsoons and the related water-logging issues provide the perfect breeding ground (stagnant water) for mosquitoes that transmit dengue. This causes a large increase in the number of cases of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue during the monsoons. 

Also, one of the vector mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, breeds during the monsoons, thus causing an increase in their number. 

However, the dengue virus is capable of infecting people at any point in time and dengue cases are reported all year round. 

Do not assume that dengue will resolve by itself, as it could lead to severe complications in some cases. If you suspect that you or a family member may have dengue, it is advisable to contact a doctor immediately for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.