Dengue fever, is a mosquito-borne viral infection, that is transmitted by two distinct species. In urban areas, it is predominantly transmitted by a type that prefers to lay its eggs in water containers.
In rural areas, a second type that prefers to lay its eggs in stagnant waters is the main cause of the outspread of the disease.
There are two clinical forms of the disease referred to as dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever. Dengue fever has symptoms like malaria that includes headaches, fevers, joint pains, fatigue, muscle pains, skin rash, pain behind the eyes and vomiting.
While dengue haemorrhagic fever is a more serious form of the disease that causes bleeding that initially appears as tiny spots of blood on the skin and grows into larger patches. This causes shock that can prove fatal.
Dengue fever is mostly an urban disease driven by human behaviours of storing water in open containers inside or around homes. These are excellent breeding grounds and the proximity to human beings increases the risk of getting the disease.
The capital city of Hanoi in northern Vietnam has reported a nearly 3-fold increase in the number of cases this year, principally in the districts of Dong Da, Hoang Mai, Hai Ba Trung, Thanh Xuan and Ha Dong.
In periods of warm and wet weather as has been experienced in northern Vietnam this year, the mosquito population increases rapidly and the virus in the mosquito also develops very quickly, says the Department of Preventative Medicine.
There are no specific treatments for dengue so it's managed by treating the symptoms.
Things that should be done includediscarding all unnecessary water containers and securely covering allnecessary water storage containers to prevent the development of breeding habitats.
In addition,spraying the interior and exterior walls of houses and other structures with insecticides has proven to be a successful strategy to controlling mosquitoes. Utilizing mosquito nets at night when sleeping and wearing long sleeved clothing and mosquito repellent is also encouraged, says the Department of Preventative Medicine.
Prompt medical attention should be sought by parents at the earliest for childrenor elderly who report complaints of unusual headaches, fevers, joint pains or vomiting.
Dengue symptoms are like those of malaria. However, the presence of pain behind the eyes and a skin rash suggests a viral infection. A malaria test should be carried out to rule it out.
Dengue symptoms can be managed by pain killers, increasing fluid intake and having plenty of bed rest, says the Department of Preventative Medicine. Aspirin should be avoided because it increases the risk of bleeding.
In all cases where dengue fever is suspected, medical attention should be obtained urgently.