All That You Need To Know About Dengue (Especially During Pregnancy)

All That You Need To Know About Dengue (Especially During Pregnancy)


Dengue Virus has been haunting humans all around for a while. Mothers with small kids and expecting women tend to panic a lot more, because of their baby at risk. Who better than an expert can guide us with how to deal with this fatal virus. Dr. Shilpa Agrawal, tells you all that you must know about Dengue.

Dr. Shilpa Agrawal –  Consultant High Risk Pregnancy & Fetal Medicine Specialist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Pedder Road, Mumbai. 

What exactly is dengue and how does it spread?

Dengue is an acute viral infection with potential fatal complications. It is transmitted mainly by Aedes aegypti mosquito and also by Aedes albopictus. It cannot spread by contact with an infected person. It can spread only through mosquito bite.

Dengue virus can cause full spectrum of disease from a subclinical infection to a mild self limiting disease, the dengue fever (DF) and a severe disease that may be fatal, the dengue haemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS).

 How can one prevent themselves from dengue?

Prevention of mosquito bite is the only method to prevent contracting dengue.

Environment-Firstly keep the environment free of mosquitoes. They breed in clean and stagnant water.

  • Empty any water containers (pots, vases or cans)in and around your home.
  • Cover open drains and prevent the rain water pooling in potholes and ditches.
  • Self-stay in area with air conditioning (as these mosquitoes prefer warm environs) and also have screen on windows and doors.
  • Wear protective clothing (long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes).
  • Use insect repellent which are safe in pregnancy. Repellents without chemicals like citronella, neem, peppermint , eucalyptus or lemongrass can also be used.
  • Use bed mosquito nets to prevent bites, though not very helpful as this are day biting mosquitoes. Indoor sprays can also be used.

What are the early symptoms of dengue?

Symptoms begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include sudden, high fever {as high as 106 F (41 C)} ,fatigue, severe joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, pain behind the eyes, severe headaches, skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever ,mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising).
Symptoms mostly are nonspecific like any other viral fever. It can be confirmed only by doing a blood test for Dengue.

What would be the ideal cure of dengue?

There is no cure for dengue .That means there is no medication against dengue virus directly (viricidal) but symptomatic treatment should be given. We can monitor and prevent it to progress to a severe form.
Expectant mother should report any fever during her pregnancy to her physician. Early diagnosis is very important.

  • Avoid dehydration by taking plenty of fluids(around 3 litres/day). They should keep a check on fetal movements and should report any pain in abdomen.
  • Fever in pregnancy has many ill effects like premature delivery and problems to fetus therefore fever should be controlled by paracetamol.
  • Paracetamol is safest amongst all the antipyretics.
  • Adequate hydration and fever control are the most important components of dengue management.
  • Platelet count and liver function tests are monitored in all cases with dengue fever.

Are pregnant women at higher risk of dengue?

Pregnant women per se are not at a higher risk of Dengue but dengue cases are on a rise worldwide involving all the age groups and consequently pregnant women are also increasingly affected by dengue.Since the immunity is low in pregnancy and diagnosis might be delayed in them, they are at a higher risk of progressing to severe form of dengue.

Would dengue in pregnancy affect the baby?

The effect on the baby depends on two factors-
1)Gestational age(period of pregnancy) of occurrence of dengue fever—early or late in pregnancy had a poor prognosis and
2)Severity of the disease. Severe form is associated with bleeding and other complications for mother and the baby.
Dengue in first three months (first trimester) of pregnancy can lead to miscarriage(abortion).
Dengue in acute phase at the time of delivery also can cause problem as there can be vertical transmission to the baby. And baby might be affected with dengue.

What other complications can it lead to?

One study had shown that dengue in pregnancy can cause premature delivery, high blood pressure(preeclampsia), low birth weight, increased risk of caesarean section and bleeding problems.
Dengue can cause bleeding complications-during pregnancy and also after delivery.
It can progress to severe forms like dengue shock syndrome or dengue haemorrhagic fever.

 Any other advice for expecting mothers or mothers with infants.

Fortunately in most of the cases ,the outcome of dengue in pregnancy is good. So don’t panic if you have got dengue in pregnancy.

o Hydrate yourself well.
o Control your fever with paracetamol.
o Keep a check on baby’s movements.
o Be under the care of your physician.
o Dengue is not known to cause any physical deformity in children if pregnant women contracts dengue .
o New born baby should be monitored for fever, vomiting irritability and rash to rule out dengue.
o Breast feeding can be continued and there is no harm with breast feeding.
o Protect yourself and your child from mosquito bites as PREVENTION IS MUCH MUCH BETTER THAN CURE.

2 thoughts on “All That You Need To Know About Dengue (Especially During Pregnancy)

  1. Thank you for sharing information about this illness. We get so focused on what we hear and the news (Zika) and don’t always think about other illness we need to be aware of.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *