All You Need To Know About Dengue, Malaria & Chikungunya


Dengue

Dengue fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that are already infected. It's a disease that a lot of people from different parts of the world suffer from. A lot of people from Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa have this disease and it proves fatal for many every year. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is one of the most severe forms of dengue fever. It is characterized by a high fever, hemorrhaging, and a serious drop in blood pressure. While the illness is usually mild if left untreated, it can prove to be fatal. The spread of dengue can often be controlled with effective prevention methods.

Symptoms

  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

 In more severe cases, the symptoms may increase to

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Blood in vomit

Diagnosis

Virus testing for the diagnosis of Dengue/DENV infection includes Virological tests (Tests that directly detect virus elements) and Serological tests (Tests that detect human-derived immune components known as antibodies-that are produced in response to the virus).  

Virological tests include Qualitative & Quantitative PCR tests known as RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction). Dengue RNA PCR test is done for detection of Dengue virus. These tests require specialized equipment and technical training for staff implementing the test. 

The presence of the virus can also be detected by testing for a virus-fabricated protein, called Dengue NS1 Antigen. There are also rapid diagnostic tests available for this because it takes only around 20 mins to get the result.

Serological tests include enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) methods that detect the presence of Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-dengue antibodies. 

A complication of Dengue Fever

  • Seizures
  • Brain Damage
  • Blood Clots
  • Lung and Liver Damage
  • Damage to heart
  • Pneumonia
  • Damage to blood vessels

Treatment

Treatment of Dengue depends on what type and what level of symptoms a patient has. There is no specific fixed set of treatments when dealing with Dengue. The most common medications are fever reducers and pain killers. For severe cases, medical aid by healthcare providers experienced with the consequences and progression of the disease can help deal with it. Maintaining the patient's liquid body substance volume is essential to severe dengue care. Patients with dengue should seek medical advice as soon as they see any warning signs.

Malaria

Malaria is one of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in the world. An estimated 3.2 billion people are at risk of malaria and approximately 0.2% of the global population gets malaria every year. There are many different types of malaria. Malaria is caused by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitos. It is caused by a single-celled parasite called Plasmodium that spreads to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. There are mainly four species of Plasmodium that cause malaria: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. The parasites can also spread by blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to child during pregnancy. Malaria is most common in tropical areas. like Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. It is a disease that is transmitted through blood. The parasite feeds on red blood cells. It interrupts the normal cycle of blood cell production, causing the red blood cells to burst, leading to anemia. 

Symptoms

In cases of Malaria, symptoms usually occur 10-15 days after a mosquito bite. 

  • Mild to severe fever
  • Anemia
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • It may even cause Jaundice due to loss of red blood cells
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

For Malaria test, a blood test will be advised by your healthcare provider for detection of malaria. Other tests include the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test- This test detects parasite nucleic acids and identifies the species of plasmodium.

Complete blood count (CBC) blood test. This test scans for anemia or evidence of other possible infections. Anaemia often develops in people with malaria, as the parasites damage red blood cells.  Serological tests or Antibody tests are also done to detect antibodies in the blood which are produced by the body’s reaction to the infection. 

Treatment

The treatment of Malaria (type of medication and duration of treatment) depends on the following factors

  • The type of Parasite
  • Symptoms and severity
  • Age 
  • Other existing medical conditions

Your healthcare provider will take all these points into consideration and treat Malaria with prescription medicines.

Complications of Malaria

  • Anemia
  • Cerebral Malaria
  • Jaundice
  • Liver Failure
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure (shock)
  • Lung fluid buildup
  • Kidney failure
  • Spleen rupture
  • Dehydration
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Acute renal failure
  • Seizures

Chikungunya

Chikungunya (CHIKV) is a viral disease transmitted through mosquito bites. It is characterized by sudden onset of fever and joint pains. This disease is believed to have originated in East Africa and caused large outbreaks in South Asia and Western Africa. The disease was first identified during a large outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. It is spread by mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical climates and between mosquitoes and humans through bites. Spread by the Aedes species, Chikungunya causes severe, debilitating pain. Many people report severe joint pain, severe muscle pain, severe headaches, and rashes. The illness shares some common symptoms with Dengue, another mosquito-borne disease.

Symptoms 

Symptoms of the Chikungunya virus usually appear around 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. 

  • Fever
  • Joint Pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle Pain
  • Joint Swelling
  • Rashes on joints
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

Common tests recommended diagnosing Chikungunya: Testing serum or blood plasma to detect viruses, Qualitative & Quantitative PCR test, Viral nucleic acid, Virus-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)M, and neutralizing antibodies

Several methods are often used for the diagnosis of chikungunya infection. Serological tests, like Enzyme-linked immunoassays (ELISA), may ascertain the presence of IgM and IgG anti-chikungunya antibodies. IgM antibody levels are highest three to five weeks after the onset of the disease and usually persist for about 2 months.

The virus could also be directly detected within the blood during the primary few days of infection also. Samples collected during the first week of being infected should be tested by both serological and virological methods. A number of  RT–PCR methods are available but with variable sensitivity.

Some are suited to clinical diagnostics. RT–PCR derivatives obtained from clinical samples can also be used for genotyping of the virus, which can make comparisons with virus samples from various other geographical sources possible

Treatment

Though there is no specific medication or treatment procedure for treating Chikungunya, the treatment plan majorly targets relieving the symptoms like joint pain using antipyretics, optimal analgesics, drinking plenty of fluids, and rest. 

Also, given the similarity of symptoms between chikungunya and dengue fever, in places where both viruses are found, chikungunya patients should avoid using aspirin or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)  until a dengue possibility is ruled out as these medicines can increase the risk of bleeding.

Complications of Chikungunya 

  • Severe and long-lasting Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Ophthalmic complications
  • Neurological problems
  • Cardiac issues
  • Deformity of joints

Prevention and Control

The saying 'prevention is better than cure is the most important when it comes to saving yourself from diseases like Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya- all caused by mosquito bites.

Measures for prevention

  • Prevent mosquito bites with the use of mosquito repellent especially in monsoon.
  • Dress in covered clothing.
  • Use screens on windows and doors. 
  • Use air conditioning when available.
  • Sleep under mosquito nets if needed.
  • Every week, make it a habit to turn over, cover, or throw out domestic water storage items such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. 
  • Check inside and outside your home for still water as mosquitoes mostly lay eggs near water.
  • Use coils and vaporizers to keep mosquitoes at bay.
  • Treat clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags, and other fabrics with an insect repellent that contains permethrin.

Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya are all serious diseases that can have many different symptoms, but it's important to remember that the only real protection against all of these diseases is taking steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

We hope this blog post has been helpful in informing you about these diseases and what you can do to not get infected.

Unipath specialty laboratory provides home sample collection for your convenience and a range of blood tests which include Serological tests for detection of Dengue, Malaria, or Chikungunya. 

 


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