Dengue “Teaser” Article

Chris Morrison




Imagine you are in a tropical or subtropical region.  To show you where these regions are located, look at the map below. The red indicates the subtropical regions throughout the world while in between the tropic of Cancer and tropic capricorn represent the tropical regions in the world.

You can see that you the reader may live or have at least vacationed in one of these regions of the world. While sitting in a home or roaming throughout town, a mosquito bites you. The bite feels the same as if you were bitten by a normal mosquito. This bite is different. You are now infected with the Dengue fever. Now you ask yourself, what is dengue fever and how did I get it? The person to blame in this scenario is the human race. Believe it or not humans carry the virus inside of them and uninfected female mosquitos are then infected with this virus. The next time this mosquito, who has now acquired this virus, bites a human, it will infect that human and thus continue the process of this disease spreading. Can all mosquitoes pick up and transmit this disease? Well no. Only Aedes ageypti is the primary carrier of this disease. These mosquitos can most commonly be found in urban areas or man made containers.

The Dengue virus is an RNA virus. It belongs to the group of yellow fever, West Nile, etc. The Dengue virus genetic material contains about 11,000 nucleotide bases which code for three different protein molecules. The Dengue virus enters through skin by the mosquitos saliva. It binds to white blood cells and reproduces inside of cells. White blood cells create signaling proteins which then cause symptoms like high fever. Fluid from bloodstream leaks through the wall of small blood vessels, resulting in less blood circulation. Also results in blood pressure that is so low that it cannot supply blood to vital organs.

You swat at the mosquito who just bit you while you were shopping for food at the market. You think nothing of it. You will not feel the affects of the disease until 4-10 days later but once the symptoms occur, you will know that you should seek professional medical attention. Dengue fever treatments can vary on what doctor you see because there is no specific treatment. Some medical professionals will recommend you to use pain relievers like acetaminophen but discourage you from using medicines like aspirin because this could worsen bleeding. Also, make sure to rest and drink an ample amount of fluids but if none of these treatments work and you feel the symptoms are worsening, then immediately go to the emergency room. Some people can develop severe dengue fever which can result in worsen symptoms and lead to death.

Now you may be wondering how you can prevent and control this illness. The most obvious way to avoid this disease is to live in a cold environment because you will never encounter any mosquitos in these regions. No one likes the cold all year round so there are other ways to prevent and control this disease. First, we need to manage the environment in in order to interrupt the mosquitos egg laying habit. We can also need to make sure to properly dispose and provide protection for waste. Those are just a few ways to control the mosquito problem but some ways you can prevent dengue fever mosquito bites is by using pesticide spray (OFF) or wear long sleeves.

The Dengue fever problem has now gained attention and the first vaccination has been developed. The first vaccination is called Dengvaxia which was in production in 2015 for people of the ages 9-45 living in these endemic areas. This vaccination is only approved in Mexico as of right now show it seems to not be reliable. Because of an economic issue for many countries and the short supply of this vaccination, recommends that only people where the disease is very prevalent should be given most of the vaccination attention. Other vaccinations are being developed and are currently in Phase III clinical trials.

Why pay attention to the Dengue fever? The Dengue fever is on the rise in the world. Before 1970, only 9 countries reported severe Dengue cases but now over 100 countries have reported Dengue fever cases. A recent estimate, reported on, indicates 390 million dengue infections per year with 95% of these reports being credible. Another recent estimate shows that 3.0 million people in 128 countries are in risk of contracting the Dengue fever. This is around half of the world’s population which is a significant issue. Now the Dengue fever is spreading to other non tropical environments. It is spreading into Europe. The first local transmission of the dengue fever was reported in 2010 in France. The Dengue fever statistics show that it is only growing in all the countries that it is in and that it is spreading into as of right now.


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