What is dengue hemorrhagic fever?
Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. It causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock). DHF is also called Philippine, Thai, or Southeast Asian hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.
DHF starts abruptly with high continuous fever and headache. There are respiratory and intestinal symptoms with sore throat, cough,nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Shock occurs two to six days after the start of symptoms with sudden collapse, cool, clammy extremities (the trunk is often warm), weak pulse, and blueness around the mouth (circumoral cyanosis).
In DHF, there is bleeding with easy bruising, blood spots in the skin (petechiae), spitting up blood (hematemesis), blood in the stool (melena), bleeding gums, and nosebleeds(epistaxis). Pneumonia is common, and inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) may be present.
Patients with DHF must be monitored closely for the first few days since shock may occur or recur precipitously (dengue shock syndrome). Cyanotic (bluish colored) patients are given oxygen. Vascular collapse (shock) requires immediate fluid replacement. Blood transfusions may be needed to control bleeding.
The mortality (death) rate with DHF is significant. With proper treatment, the World Health Organization estimates a 2.5% mortality rate. However, without proper treatment, the mortality rate rises to 20%. Most deaths occur in children. Infants under a year of age are especially at risk of dying from DHF.
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