Dengue fever, what it is and what it risks - Donnamoderna

LDengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, is worrying in Singapore, but also in Brazil and South America. Should we fear too? Symptoms, therapies, precautions before and after a trip to the areas at risk

First the mild temperatures of winter, then a cool spring, now a heat above the seasonal average. The result is that, in addition to drought, there is an increase in insects, especially tiger mosquitoes, rising sharply. Of the Tiger mosquito we had talked too, and in particular about the Zika virus.

But now the alarm seems to become more serious, due to the Dengue virusthe so-called “bone-breaking fever” with the classic symptoms that accompany it. It is a disease also transmitted by a mosquito, although fortunately it is not present as an indigenous form in our country.

What is Dengue Fever

The classic symptoms are high fever, severe headache and severe muscle aches. But the disease in severe cases can also lead to bleeding, breathing difficulties, problems affecting some organs, which can function less or less efficiently, up to death. “It is transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is not native to our country. The alarm concerns above all the possibility that infected people arrive in Italy, returning from business trips or tourism in areas at risk and where the disease is widespread, which then can indirectly infect other people if bitten by mosquitoes, which in turn then they convey the disease to others. In practice, the reservoir of the disease is man, while the insect acts only as a vehicle»Explains Claudio Venturelli, health entomologist of the Ausl Emilia Romagna.

The recent Dengue alarm from Singapore and Brazil

In Singapore there were already more than 11,000 cases a week ago, double those of last year in the same period. In particular, as reported by the authorities to the CNN“As of May 28, 2022, about 11,670 cases of Dengue», Against 5,258 in 2021, and the About 10% needed to resort to “hospitalization”. Why this increase? According to Ruklanthi de Alwis, an emerging infectious disease specialist from Duke-Nus Medical School of Singapore, “Global warming due to climate change will eventually expand the geographic areas affected by Dengue and lengthen its broadcast season.” «The Singaporean authorities attach great importance to climate change, because an increase in temperatures over the years has been observed and, at the same time, also a growth in the mosquito population. Some time ago, on the occasion of a conference hosted in Emilia Romagna, the head of Health of Singapore explained to us how, precisely for this reason, they are conducting a careful monitoring of the situation. Even the use of the army is foreseen for compliance with the rules for the non-proliferation of mosquitoessuch as the indication to avoid the stagnation of water in the appurtenances of the houses and in the private gardens, up to measures such as the closure of companies that do not respect the indications of the law ”explains Venturelli.

Dengue fever alarm also in South America

The problem is that the spread of Dengue also worries in South America, an area with which Italy has greater trade: «Singapore is important as a commercial location, but for example with Brazil there is a greater flow of tourists and migrants. In the first case, the alarm was triggered for over 11,600 cases, but in the South American country there are now about 1 million 300 thousand »observes Venturelli. As the Singapore health authorities explain, at the moment the situation is at a “manageable level” and there have been no deaths, but it is feared that with the summer the picture could worsen, reaching an “urgent phase of emergency”, as stated by Singapore Minister of Internal Affairs Desmond Tan.

How to protect yourself from Dengue before and after a risky trip

So how to protect yourself before or after a risky trip? «It must be said that there are no specific therapies. A young and healthy person generally heals spontaneously in 7/8 days, maximum 10, while the elderly, frail people or children could have some complications. There is a vaccine that would seem effective, but especially on those who have already had the disease once. The recommendation is to be well informed before traveling to areas where the disease is widespread. If, on the other hand, you experience compatible symptoms on your return, it is advisable to call your doctor immediately. Isolation is important to avoid spread: the ideal would be to observe a period of 10/15 days in conditions that avoid that the infected person is bitten by mosquitoes, for example in a house with mosquito nets and, possibly, air conditioning. This is to prevent the mosquito in turn transmitting the disease to others through its bites. In any case, if you have a fever, you should never take aspirin because, being an anticoagulant and the disease being a hemorrhagic fever, greater damage would be risked “explains the health entomologist.

How to avoid epidemics and protect yourself with small tricks

Diseases communicable through mosquito bites are different and to avoid epidemics there is the so-called PNA, the National Arbovirus Plan. If you are reporting a case of mosquito-borne virus disease, such as West Nile, Chikungunya, Dengue, Zikaetc., the plan, declined at the regional level, which provides for a important disinfestation of the area frequented by the infected person, such as home or workplace. For example, in Emilia Romagna it lasts three days, but generally there are no big differences from territory to territory. If, on the other hand, a contagion is suspected, the person is subjected to a blood test to ascertain whether or not the virus is present. – explains Venturelli – But it is also good that each citizen of us does his part, trying to limit the proliferation of mosquitoes, even those commonly present in our territory, such as the now widespread tiger. For example, Zika and Chikungunya are also transmitted by the latter. Another virus now endemic in Europe is that of West Nile, of which in 2020 there were about twenty cases in Veneto. It is well controlled, but let’s not forget that we take the first step, for example eliminating any stagnation of waterwatering one’s plants when needed and in the right measure, and protecting ourselves with special repellents »concludes the expert.


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