For the residents and visitors of Boquete Panama
Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever,headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles.
The time between the bite of a mosquito carrying dengue virus and the start of symptoms averages 4 to 6 days. A rash usually appears 3 to 4 days after the start of the fever.
In some cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
In dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), the blood vessels start to leak and cause blood to leak from the nose, mouth, and gums.
There is no commercially available vaccine. Treatment of acute dengue uses either oral or intravenous rehydration for mild or moderate disease, and intravenous fluids and blood transfusion for more severe cases.
There is no specific cure for dengue fever although symptomatic treatment to alleviate the symptom of fever NSAIDS (ibuprofen, acetaminophen diclofenac) are given along with malarial treatment, rest, and intravenous fluid replacement.
Aspirin in dengue is strictly forbidden.
After the fever, finger and toe joints swell and pin-prick looking rash over legs, arms and torso can be seen while Malaria is a short lasting, recurring fever, accompanied by chills and body aches.
Spraying with DEET before going outside during epidemics is a general prevention. Use of natural insect repellents containing essential oils should be reapplied often since body heat causes the oils to evaporate.
While neem and citronella oils are usually recommended by alternative health practitioners as a safe replacement for DEET medical research indicates that oil of basil is most effective: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21445613
Many alternative health tourists to tropical areas carry capsules of the herb goldenseal since anecdotal reports, though unproven, appear to support the herb's ability to reduce fever and chills naturally.
A patient with dengue fever requires fluid replacement that contains electrolyte minerals - magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium - because these are the ones that patients lose when they sweat.
“In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you may become. If you have a fever in addition to diarrhea and vomiting, you lose even more fluids. If you can’t get to a hospital, say you are in a far-flung barangay or in a disaster area, getting an isotonic drink would be a life-saver.”
Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding heads the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine’s dengue research group.