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Neurological complications associated with dengue

Dengue cases are increasing across the country. Union health minister J P Nadda chaired a high level meeting on Wednesday to review preparedness status of dengue management in the country. He urged officials to primarily focus on high burden states and regions where outbreaks are frequently reported and to proactively work with States to bring tangible results on dengue prevention.

While the virus is usually known to cause flu-like symptoms, recent years have seen the focus shift to the virus's effects on the brain.

One of the four viruses known as the "dengue viruses"—DENNV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, and DENV 4—causes dengue fever, an illness. Though they are not precisely the same, they are connected to one another. Being ill with the dengue virus does not shield you from contracting the others. It is possible for someone to contract dengue fever more than once. The disease is transmitted through infected Aedes mosquitoes carrying dengue viruses that act as the carriers of dengue illness.

The rainy season causes an increase in mosquito reproduction, which causes the endemic viral infection to grow considerably. Stagnant water and high humidity during monsoons create ideal conditions for the Aedes mosquito to thrive resulting in a spike in dengue cases. Neurological complications of dengue come to fore when the virus crosses the blood-brain barrier leading to inflammation and infection of the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms of neurological involvement include meningitis, encephalitis and myelitis.

Neurological complications associated with dengue
Seizures, headaches, altered mental state, and even comas are possible side effects of severe dengue. Due to its neurotropic properties, the virus can infect brain cells directly, leading to inflammation and damage. Moreover, the immunological reaction triggered by the illness may further worsen these neurological problems and adding to the complications.

The neurological system is one of the many bodily systems that can be affected by the virus. It will show as a brain fever when it affects the neurological system. Individuals may experience low platelet counts, altered awareness, trouble speaking, stroke, seizures, or fits, as well as brain hemorrhage.

Low platelets are known to cause bleeding in several regions of the body, including the brain. When a patient has low platelets and is confirmed to be positive for dengue, the neurological system is affected, and often there is not much improvement.

early detection and treatment is key to keeping the infection under control and avoiding the neurological consequences of dengue. In individuals with dengue, especially during seasons of peak transmission, healthcare systems need to be especially watchful for any indications of neurological involvement.

Preventing denguePreventative efforts play an important role in the fight against dengue more so in the monsoon season when the infection is at its peak. Controlling mosquito populations is the first step in prevention against this vector borne infection. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes, so make sure to routinely inspect your home and the surrounding areas, especially during the rainy season, and empty any buckets, coolers, or other containers with accumulated water.

In addition, it is essential to follow personal protective measures such as using mosquito repellent s, wearing long-sleeved and light-coloured clothes to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Lastly, educating the public is crucial to reduce the negative effects of dengue on neurological health.

(Author: Dr Praveen Gupta, Principal Director & Chief of Neurology, Fortis Hospital)