DHARAMSHALA: Due to a rising number of Tibetans being affected by Dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases in India, Tibet TV interviewed Dr Tseten Dorjee, the Chief Medical Officer of Tibetan Delek Hospital, about the causes, symptoms and precautions for the disease. Dr Tseten Dorjee recommends that the most important precaution in the case of Dengue fever is keeping our local environment clean and dry by removing common mosquito breeding places like bodies of standing water.
Excerpts from the interview follow:
What is Dengue fever?
Dengue fever can be classified into two groups: uncomplicated and severe. Most of the dengue cases, around 80% – 90% of the cases are uncomplicated and can be treated easily. Only a small proportion, around 10% of the Dengue cases are severe. Severe dengue cases can be life threatening at times. Hence it is very important for patients with severe dengue fever to be treated and admitted in a well-equipped hospital.
What is the difference between normal fever and Dengue fever?
There is not much difference in body temperature of a patient during a normal fever and dengue fever. There are a wide range of fever diseases. Some patients develop high fever in the nights and some during the daytime. In the case of the uncomplicated dengue fever, patients depict high fever and other symptoms between 3-7 days from the date of exposure to Dengue virus. In some cases, the fever decreases in the patient but there is a complete loss of energy and movement.
How dangerous is Dengue perceived normally on the world stage?
Dengue disease is prevalent in almost 100 countries around the world. And it is rapidly spreading to other parts of the world. India, for instance, recorded the first attack of Dengue only recently.
What are the symptoms of the disease? Is Dengue fever a communicable disease?
The most common symptoms of Dengue are sudden onset of fever, headache (typically located behind the eyes), muscle and joint pains, and skin rashes. Some patients also develop symptoms which include vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne communicable disease. It is not communicable from one person to another. It is communicated through mosquito bites especially through the bites of a particular mosquito commonly known as Tiger mosquito, which is characterised by its black and white striped legs, and small black and white striped body.
Is there a preventive vaccine for the disease?
Currently, there is no specific anti-viral drug for Dengue. But efforts are on to develop a vaccination for the disease. There are four types of Dengue virus. Therefore, a lot of research is need to develop such a vaccine. One sample vaccination has been created. If a complete vaccination to prevent the disease is developed, it would be very helpful to all.
After developing the symptoms, what are the measures that a patient needs to adopt to prevent it from deteriorating?
It is best to visit a hospital and consult a doctor if a person has developed the symptoms that I have mentioned above. But if the patient is in a remote location, far from hospitals, then he or she can take Paracetamol pills to reduce the pain and fever as a temporary measure. Other pain killers and pills may not be appropriate during a dengue attack. Moreover, Dengue patients should drink as much fluid as possible like tea, water, juice, etc.
What are the preventive practices that a household should adopt to prevent Dengue?
Preventive measures should be adopted both on individual and community level to combat the disease. It can be defeated only with the efforts of all the community members and not by one individual alone. The primary preventive method is to eliminate the breeding habitat of the mosquito like standing water bodies.
An integrated approach to disease control is to maximise use of resources. Evidence-based decision making to ensure any interventions are targeted appropriately and capacity-building to ensure an adequate response to the local situation are important preventive measures.
What precautionary measures should Tibetans travelling from Dharamsala to Delhi take to remain safe from dengue?
Tibetans travel a lot if we compare ourselves with others. So there is bigger risk of contracting these diseases. I suggest travellers to take the precautions that I have mentioned above. Most importantly, its the individual’s responsibility to remain safe. You can only take the precautions because as I said before, there is no specific cure for dengue.
Does Delek hospital have the facility and equipment to treat Dengue?
Few Tibetans have contracted Dengue fever in Dharamsala earlier but the number of patients had never been high like this year. In some severe cases, the patients need blood transfusions, so we shift those patients to bigger hospitals. Most of the dengue cases are uncomplicated, we treat them here itself in Delek hospital. Currently, we have 4 dengue patients at Delek hospital.