What is severe dengue?

MANILA — Many parents of children who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia are worried over French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur’s admission that the vaccine could cause “severe” cases of dengue for those who have not been exposed to dengue.

Dengue virus is transmitted through mosquito bite. The incubation period of the disease is four to 10 days after getting bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito. It has flu-like symptoms that lasts from two to seven days. If not treated immediately, one may have complications, like severe bleeding and severe organ impairment in the late stage of the disease, which is around the third to seventh day of the infection.

At least 700,000 public school students in the country were vaccinated with Dengvaxia. Department of Health Spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said not all 700,000 are at risk of having severe dengue, but only 10 percent only of those who were vaccinated.

Amid all these, the government and Sanofi tells the public to stay calm as the vaccine still benefits those who have previously contracted the disease. The Department of Health has also halted the vaccination of Dengvaxia while consultation with stakeholders and experts are on-going.

Suy also said the health department is monitoring the conditions of students who were given the vaccine.

To parents whose children were given vaccination, below is the difference between dengue to severe dengue and its symptoms based on the guidelines released by the World Health Organization:

Dengue fever – usually occurs after an incubation period of four to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The temperature of the dengue patient is usually 40 degrees, accompanied by at least two of the following symptoms:

– Headaches
– Pain behind eyes
– Nausea, vomiting
– Swollen glands
– Joint, bone or muscle pains
– Rash

Severe dengue – developed stage of dengue. The critical phase takes place around three to seven days after the first sign of illness. WHO said temperature of patient will decrease but does not mean that she is necessarily recovering.

– Symptoms to watch for before disease leads to severe dengue:
– Severe abdominal pain
– Persistent vomiting
– Bleeding gums
– Vomiting blood
– Rapid breathing
– Fatigue/ restlessness

When a patient is suspected to have a severe dengue, she should be rushed to the nearest hospital, not just a health care provider, because the condition may lead to:

– Plasma leaking that may lead to shock and/or fluid accumulation with/without respiratory distress;
– Severe bleeding;
– Severe organ impairment.


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