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Dengue in the UAE

Dengue: An Overview

Dengue is a viral disease caused by any of the 4 variants of Dengue virus, namely Dengue-1, Dengue-2, Dengue-3, and Dengue-4, that is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans upon its bite.

Found in tropical and sub-tropical climates around the world, this infectious illness threatens the lives of about 100 to 400 million persons per year as per data from the World Health Organization.

Transmitted primarily by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and, to a lesser number, by the Aedes Albopictus mosquito this illness appears as a mild fever and even has the potential to escalate to severe flu conditions.

The downside is that there are no specific treatments for this illness except treating with painkillers. Since the efficacy of vaccines is limited it is recommended to follow a preventive strategy that avoids mosquito bites and prevents the proliferation of mosquitos

Dengue which is endemic in over 100 countries affects Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific, and the Americas to a greater extent. Parts of Asia and Africa are also among the affected areas.

In the case of West Asia, particularly the UAE, dengue has not acquired an endemic status. However, its warmer climate, a huge volume of international travel, and increasing urbanization give space for its infections in the region. The recent identification of the dengue virus vector in the region is another concern to worry about.

As per data from the Dubai Health Authority on the period of 2010-2020, the number of dengue reported cases has significantly increased. It also highlights several outbreaks during this period.

The UAE has also witnessed a rise in Dengue cases in recent months as a result of stagnant water across the country following two storms. In this context, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is spearheading a campaign to eradicate mosquitos and larvae. As a part of this effort thermal fogging and draining of water from the flooded zones are being carried out.

In a virtual meeting of the second session of the National Committee of Biosecurity for 2024 conducted recently HE Dr. Amna Bint Abdullah Al Dahak, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment reasserted this commitment.

She said, “We are working to ensure sustainable national biosecurity in all the emirates, with special focus on efforts to control mosquito proliferation, especially following the exceptional weather conditions in the country.” This must be read in the context of the increasing dengue outbreak in the UAE.

Causes and Transmission of Dengue

Once a vector bites a person the virus enters the bloodstream and replicates. It, along with the action of immune response, can make a person feel sick. The virus can also destroy the parts of blood that give structure to the blood vessels causing internal bleeding. This is how severe dengue occurs in patients.

The transmission of the virus is generally conducted by the vectors, in this case, mosquitos. According to WHO the transmission of dengue by other channels is rare. The other channels as listed by the regulator include maternal transmissions, transmission via blood products, organ donation, and transfusions.

Symptoms of Dengue

Dengue can be symptomatic and asymptomatic. In the case of the former symptoms begin after 4 to 10 days of being bitten by the mosquito.

The common symptoms of Dengue include:

  1. Eye pain
  2. Intense pain behind the eyes
  3. Rash
  4. Nausea and Vomiting
  5. Muscle, bone and joint pain
  6. Swollen glands

These are mild symptoms that will withdraw within about a week. In some patients the conditions can worsen with the following signs:

  1. Stomach or abdominal pain
  2. Persistent Vomiting
  3. Bleeding through gums, nose, or under the skin which looks like bruising
  4. Blood in the vomit, urine, or stool.
  5. Fatigue and irritability
  6. Difficulty in breathing

What are the risk factors for DENV infections?

Dengue Virus (DENV) has four variants. This makes it capable of reinfection with a different variant. The antibody created by the first infection can’t tackle this variant effectively. What is more concerning is that a second infection has more chance of becoming severe.

Other risk factors are connected to urbanization and its socio-economic consequences. This includes population density, human mobility, and water storage practices. Such factors determine the suitability of the environment for mosquitos and the interaction of humans with this vector. Other than this the knowledge on handling such socio-economic situations among the population also determines the risks for a community outbreak. In the rapidly urbanizing environment of the UAE, such factors have a greater significance.

How to Treat and Manage Dengue?

There is no direct cure for DENV. Firstly make a blood test to ensure that it is Dengue. Because its primary symptoms which are flu and aches are general for many diseases. A healthcare provider can help to collect blood from your veins and send it to a lab for tests. This test will also confirm the variant to which a person is infected.

Once the infection is confirmed the way forward is to treat the symptoms. The healthcare provider may recommend full rest and proper hydration in the first place. Painkillers will help to address aches. But Ibuprofen and Aspirin are not recommendable as they can exacerbate internal bleeding. Acetaminophen is an advisable option. Make sure to contact the doctor if severe conditions persist.

Isn’t it Possible to prevent dengue?

Yes, it is possible to prevent dengue. The key is to avoid mosquito bites and take steps to exterminate its breeding sites.

You can avoid mosquito bites by:

  1. Using mosquito nets sprayed with insect repellent.
  2. Installing window screens
  3. Wearing clothes that cover the entire body
  4. Using coils and vaporizers.

Meanwhile, its breeding can be prevented by:

  1. Removing man-made structures that hold water
  2. Proper disposal of solid waste
  3. Covering and cleaning domestic water storage containers daily.

How to survive from dengue reinfections?

The chances for reinfections in Dengue are very likely since the antibody generated by one of its variants may not work against another variant. Given that, a second infection can be severe known as severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever. A recommendable solution is the dengue vaccine. The point to be remembered is that it is effective only if a person has had a dengue fever before. In that case, it helps reduce the risk of severe dengue.

The Role of Homeopathy in Handling Dengue

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine that uses its medicines to stimulate the body’s self-healing processes. In the case of Dengue, it strives to alleviate symptoms such as high fever, body aches, and fatigue. As its medicines are based on natural ingredients there is little chance for any side effects. Hence they are considered as safe and nontoxic. Sometimes it is also chosen as a complementary therapy alongside traditional options to manage dengue.

Homeopathic Remedies for Dengue

It includes Eupatorium Perfoliatum, Bryonia Alba, Rhus Tox, Gelsemium, and Belladonna among several other medicines. Eupatorium Perfoliatum is used to manage intense bone pain and fever whereas Bryonia Alba and Rhus Tox help to reduce muscle and joint pains. Gelsemium is a remedy for severe fatigue and weakness. Meanwhile, Belladonna is a suggested remedy to treat headaches and pain behind the eyes.

Prevalence of Dengue in the UAE: A Risk Analysis

Dengue vector is not endemic to the UAE and was nowhere to be found in the region until last year. The 2023 findings of this vector in the region cause alerts among the general public. It should be seen in the context of recent climatic events, such as the storms, which facilitated a conducive environment for the disease-spreading mosquito varieties. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is already on its heels with staunch actions to eradicate the population of these mosquitos. A contribution from the part of the general public is already a necessity to effectively handle this risky situation. Our analysis on this matter comes to the point that community involvement is a must to curb this menace that inflicts the health and well-being of the general public.