Dengue fever in children
Everything you need to know about dengue symptoms, treatments and prevention to keep your child safe.
Year after year, hundreds of thousands of dengue fever cases are reported in the Philippines with thousands of Filipinos—child and adults—dying from the disease. While dengue fever can be fatal to those who contacted with it, it can be treated. And as with any illness, awareness about the dengue fever and what you can do about it can help in protecting your children from it. Here's what you need to know:
Dengue fever is a tropical, mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms, rashes and joint and muscle pain.
Dengue symptoms in infants and toddlers generally start with the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Mild rashes on the skin
- High temperature
In older kids, dengue symptoms include:
- High fever of 106°F (41°C) - usually the first symptom that manifests; other symptoms usually appear after the fever goes down significantly
- Eye and joint aches
- Backaches and headaches
- Loss of appetite
- Skin rash, which appears three to four days after the onset of fever
- Bleeding nose and gums
- Susceptible to easy bruising
Dengue makes a person pale and weak, and this weakness may continue for some time after the illness as well.
Children who have not had dengue are more vulnerable. However, they usually end up with a milder form of the disease compared to adults.
Remember, though, that flu-like symptoms are possible indicators of other diseases as well, such as malaria, leptospirosis, typhoid fever and other minor diseases; so these symptoms are not 100 percent indicative of dengue.
The virus is carried by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito and cannot be directly transmitted from person to person. Instead, transfer occurs when this mosquito bites a person who is already infected. Persons who are bitten by the same mosquito afterwards may also get sick.
- Living in a tropical country
- Not taking precautions such as not applying or using anti-mosquito products
- Playing in areas that house mosquito breeding sites such as items that contain stagnant water (uncovered water pails, unused cans or jars, car tires, flower vases)
- Staying in populated areas that are dirty: lined with garbage and containers that hold dirty water
- Severe cases of dengue include damage to the heart, lungs and liver, as well as a dangerous drop in blood pressure that may lead to shock and, sometimes, death.
- Having a history of contracting dengue increases the risk of suffering from severe dengue symptoms upon the succeeding contraction.
When to Call the Doctor
A mild case of dengue goes away after a week or two. If symptoms worsen a day or two after dengue symptoms go away, consult a doctor because a child may have a severe form of the fever called dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).
Continue reading to learn more about how Dengue Fever is diagnosed and what treatments are available
Tests and Diagnosis
The pediatrician will examine your child for dengue symptoms and then require a blood test to determine if your child tests positive or negative for the disease.
Treatments and Drugs
There is no cure for this viral illness. At best, relief from dengue symptoms can be provided to ease pain and discomfort. There is also no immunization against the fever.
Dengue has four strains: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4. It is only after contracting one strain that a child builds immunity to it; however, he is not immune to the other three strains. In most cases, the subsequent infection and symptoms are much more severe than the first.
For mild dengue, recommended home treatments are to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration from high fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
Acetaminophen can be taken to relieve pain and reduce fever. However, avoid anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen that may increase the risk of bleeding complications.
For severe dengue, hospitalization is necessary to monitor blood pressure, administer intravenous fluids, replace electrolytes and receive blood transfusion if necessary.
Continue reading to learn how to prevent Dengue Fever
Eliminate mosquito breeding sites
- Clean out any surfaces that collect stagnant water. There could be mosquitos breeding in indoor bamboo plants, the area under the air-conditioning vents, the dog’s water bowl or even discarded tire outside the house
- Keep your house clean, dry and hygienic
- Throw away wet garbage such as vegetable stalks, fruits peels, etc., regularly
- Clean out any flower pots and throw out dead plants
- Dress your child in long-sleeved clothing and trousers to reduce exposed skin
- Make him wear light-colored clothes as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors
- Use Citronella oil-based creams and sprays or other herbal mosquito repellents. Avoid using such on baby’s delicate skin unless your pediatrician advises it
- Experiment with placing mosquito repellent plants around the house. However, one must ensure that the water drains out well
- Use mosquito nets while sleeping
- If you do not already have them, install mosquito meshes on windows. Make sure these are free of holes
Stay indoors when mosquitos are most active
- Limit the amount of time children spent outside during the day, especially in the hours around dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
- Air conditioning also helps keeps mosquitoes at bay