Dengue vaccine trials have been conducted in over 50 countries around the world and have now been expanded to include all countries in the region.
However, many parents and caregivers are still concerned about the safety of dengue vaccines. They are questioning whether these vaccines have any adverse effects on them.
What is Dengue?
Dengue virus is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes, especially by Aedes aegypti. It has quickly gotten to all regions of the WHO in the last few years.
It can become a severe disease. Symptoms include high fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, rash, cough and fatigue.
The primary concern is that there are many complications that occur in the aftermath of a dengue infection.
Symptoms of Dengue in Children
Severe dengue disease in children can lead to a fever for days, and the child may experience more than one symptom at the same time.
The illness usually starts with a fever, accompanied by the sudden onset of severe pain and muscle aches in children.
Symptoms caused by a dengue infection in children include:
- Severe headache
- Severe pain in the muscles and joints
- Rash on the face, body, or legs (usually in one form of a rash called a maculopapular rash)
- Sore throat and fever for children who have dengue fever. The child can also have difficulty swallowing or breathing, because of muscle pain and swelling in the throat.
In children with dengue fever, their body temperature rises above 101 F. As a result, they can be sent to hospital to get treated. Doctors will also treat them with an intravenous fluid to prevent dehydration.
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Can Dengue Spread through Skin Contact?
Dengue is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, but in rare cases it can be spread through other means, such as breast milk or vertical transmission in pregnant women.
The disease can also be transmitted through your blood if you are exposed to a contaminated needle.
Therefore, you do not need to worry about getting the dengue virus by touching or having contact with someone who has contracted the disease.
How Can Dengue Be Prevented?
There are several ways that dengue can be prevented, including:
1. Avoiding mosquito bites
The best way to avoid contracting dengue is to prevent mosquito bites by using an insect repellent such as DEET.
Also, wearing long-sleeved clothes and using mosquito nets can help to reduce the risk of contracting dengue by reducing exposure to mosquitoes during sleep.
Children with weak immune response are at a greater risk of contracting dengue.
2. Preventing mosquito breeding
Eliminating mosquitoes from areas where they are breeding is the best way to prevent dengue. One of the best ways to do this is to remove or clean stagnant water that mosquitoes breed in.
Such measures are being taken across Malaysia, especially in coastal areas, where the dengue situation is severe. Thus, the incidence of dengue has declined sharply in the past decades.
3. Vaccinating against dengue
Vaccinating against dengue viruses is a highly effective way to prevent the disease. Each candidate dengue vaccine is live, attenuated vaccines based on a single dengue serotype.
The protection provided by the vaccines is highly efficacious and has a high efficacy rate in seropositive individuals. It makes them an attractive option for large-scale dengue control programs.
In addition, they are less expensive than the killed vaccines, and therefore more attractive to the developing countries.
How Does Dengue Vaccine Work?
Dengue vaccination works by delivering a harmless virus that has been altered to produce proteins that are like the ones found in dengue.
When the vaccinated person is exposed to dengue, their immune system recognizes the altered virus and can fight it off. The vaccine is administered as a shot in order to trigger an immune response.
Once an individual has been infected with dengue, the vaccine can prevent a full-blown infection from occurring.
This is because the dengue virus, once introduced into a person’s body, can remain dormant for up to two years. However, it can cause disease if re-introduced into their body during this period.
The dengue vaccine reduces this potential for re-introduction of the virus by prompting an immune response against the mutated version of the virus where someone already has it in their system.
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Does Dengue Vaccine Raise Risk of Getting Dengue?
Dengue antibodies can cause flu-like symptoms, and are often present in the blood of those who get dengue. This is not considered being a risk, however.
If you have had dengue fever or have been exposed to the virus, it’s possible that you might develop antibodies against it and get dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Because there is a tiny risk of getting dengue fever from having been vaccinated against it, health officials advise that people who want the vaccine should wait until they’re older than nine years old before receiving it.
The WHO recommends that adults who have never had dengue fever should receive the vaccine only if they live at a high risk of dengue area and will receive three doses of the vaccine.
This includes those living in an area where dengue fever is endemic and has been reported in the last three years.
Preventing Severe Dengue Infection
It is a major health concern in many tropical areas of the world. It can cause death sometimes, especially when people get infected with dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Dengue vaccine has proven to be an effective way to prevent severe dengue infection.
However, it is important to note that this vaccine is only useful for preventing dengue infections in those who have been exposed to the virus in the past.
Thus, it’s essential for parents and caregivers to take the right precautions and follow a healthy lifestyle so as not to put their children at risk of contracting dengue fever.
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