New Delhi: The death of 80-year-old legendary Bollywood director Yash Chopra from dengue has once again highlighted that the vector disease is not only a poor man`s illness. All income classes are vulnerable.
"Dengue can be fatal, particularly for children and the elderly who are low on immunity," K.K. Chaudhary, health officer, East Delhi Municipal Corporation, told IANS.
Experts say dengue fever usually starts within a week of the infection. Symptoms include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in the joints and muscles, nausea and vomiting, and rashes on the skin.
"It can happen to anyone. It is a dangerous disease and needs to be diagnosed and treated early," said A.K. Bansal, health officer, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Doctors say dengue causes death by setting off failure of organ systems, once the disease becomes critical.
"A capillary (smallest of blood vessels) leak allows the blood to go outside the vessels, and consequently the blood pressure lowers on the sixth or seventh day of dengue. So, in children and elderly who have contracted dengue, monitoring of blood pressure becomes crucial," says Vineet Jain, general physician, Smile Clinic, east Delhi.
Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, says there is no need to panic at the diagnosis of dengue. "Ninety-nine percent of patients diagnosed with dengue do not die. There are those who think that any diagnosis of dengue means death, but most of the time patients do not die," Chatterjee says.
He also said that multiple organ failure happens when there is low blood pressure.
"When low blood pressure happens, the transfer rate of blood to different organs, like liver, reduces. As a result, it leads to the death of the patient," Chatterjee added.
There are three types of dengue fever: the typical uncomplicated dengue fever; dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHS), where the patient bleeds from the nose, gums or under the skin as is found generally in elderly people; and dengue shock syndrome (DSS), in which fluid leaks outside blood vessels, causing massive bleeding and shock -- this form of the disease is fatal in children.
Doctors also said that a dengue patient should be hospitalised in time as delay can complicate the case. The symptoms should be reported and timely transfusion of blood may be necessary as part of treatment.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue. Doctors say those who suspect that they may have contracted dengue should use pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoid those containing aspirin. They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a physician.
The best way to prevent dengue is to check stagnation of water. The dengue-causing mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, breeds only in fresh water.
Water pools, flower pots, excess water dripping from air-conditioners, water collected in old tyres and open water containers should be checked, for these are possible sites for mosquito breeding. Lidless western closets and open gutters can also serve as breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegypti.
According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, a total of 17,104 people have been affected by dengue in the country till September and 100 deaths have been caused by the disease across the country this year.