Dengue fever

Health Professionals

What do health professionals need to know about dengue fever?

Health care professionals in Canada are advised to be vigilant for the recognition, reporting and prompt investigation of patients with symptoms of dengue fever and other similar diseases that can cause viral haemorrhagic fevers.

Clinical symptoms

Clinical symptoms include sudden onset of fever for 3 to 5 days, with an intense headache, myalgia, arthralgia, retro-orbital pain, anorexia and rash. Symptoms are usually self-limiting.

Recognizing severe dengue and early signs of shock is critical to patient care. Prompt medical care by physicians and nurses has shown to decrease mortality rates from more than 10% to less than 1%.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue fever.

Patients are treated for their symptoms. Treatment options include:

  • supportive care in an intensive care unit,
  • maintenance of fluid levels and electrolytes,
  • maintenance of oxygen status and blood pressure, and
  • replacement of lost blood and clotting factors.

Prevention and control

Vector control is the only available method for preventing and controlling dengue and severe dengue. Research on dengue vaccines for public health use is in process.

The global strategy for dengue prevention and control developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the regional strategy formulation in the Americas, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific has 4 main priorities.

  1. Strengthen epidemiological surveillance through the implementation of DengueNet.
  2. Accelerate training and adopt WHO standard clinical management guidelines for severe dengue.
  3. Promote behavioral change at individual, household and community levels to improve prevention and control.
  4. Accelerate research on vaccine development, host-pathogen interactions, and develop tools/interventions by including dengue in the disease portfolio of the UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, and in the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research.

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