Medical experts say that dengue fever is one of the many diseases that infect Kenyans thus causing serious, ailments, suffering and eventual deaths.
According to medical experts it is one of the neglected diseases that pose a serious threat to human lives, especially along the East African Coast. Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes namely Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus among others.
These species of mosquito are common around the lake regions and at the coastal line. There are four types of Dengue viruses. There is type one, two, three and four. But type two is more common in our environment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40 percent of the world population lives in areas prone to this infection and up to 100 million people get infected annually.
Of the 100 million people about 500,000 are asymptomatic or show significant symptoms of the diseases. Dengue fever is said to be causing about 22,000 deaths globally every year.
“In Kenya we have continued diagnosing this disease in the North and in the year 2013 we had an outbreak in Mombasa that last reported the outbreak in the1980s”, says Dr. Evans Amukoye, the Director, Centre for Respiratory Disease and Research with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
The symptoms of dengue fever include fever of up to 40°C, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and pain in the eyes, joints and muscles. In severe cases, symptoms may include intense stomach pain, repeated vomiting, and bleeding from the nose or gums or the patient blood pressure may go very low that the blood is unable to circulate.
It takes one week but up to two weeks for one to develop symptoms after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Even though one gets lifetime immunity from the serotype they have been infected and recovered, a second infection by another serotype increases the chance of getting more serious disease.
There is neither vaccine nor definitive treatment for this disease but early diagnosis can alert the medical personnel to look out for danger sign and institute supportive treatment that can reduce deaths. There is now Molecular and serological to make a rapid test even in the rural set up.
“We are happy to note that this has been introduced to our market. Apart from saving lives we have an opportunity to establish if the disease is endemic other than waiting for epidemics”, notes Dr Amukoye.
Ongoing surveillance has shown there is large population previously treated for malaria that has viral infection such as dengue fever.
To prevent the transmission of this disease one has to avoid mosquito bites especially at day time by wearing clothes that cover the body and using mosquito repellants. And since there is no vaccine to offer immunity against dengue fever, medical experts now advise that people get regular screening of the disease.
The vaccine against dengue fever is not available globally. However, it is believed that scientists are currently developing one which will soon be put on trials. And once it is approved by the WHO, it will be recommended for use throughout the world. And it is likely to reduce the number of cases in the country.
Doctors now recommend that those at risk and even those who are not at risk should always for screening against the disease at least three times a year.