Doctors say Dengue can have serious effects on the nervous system and brain

Patients with severe dengue fever may experience headaches, changes in mental status, seizures, and even coma.

Experts say today although dengue fever is known to cause mild flu-like symptoms, the mosquito-borne viral disease has profound neurological effects that are often overlooked. Amid the monsoon season in India,  fever cases have increased in various parts of the country. , including Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi and Maharashtra.

According to the latest data from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), there have been 246 cases of fever hemorrhage in the national capital so far’ in June. 30 years now. During the same period in 2023, Delhi recorded only 122 cases, 143 cases in 2022, 36 cases in 2021 and 20 cases in 2020.

“While primarily known for causing flu-like symptoms, dengue has profound neurological implications that are often overlooked,” Dr Praveen Gupta, Principal Director & Chief of Neurology at Fortis Hospital Gurugram, told news agency IANS.

“Neurological manifestations, though less common, include encephalitis, meningitis, and myelitis. These conditions arise from the virus crossing the blood-brain barrier, leading to inflammation and infection of the brain and spinal cord,” he explained.

Dengue: MedlinePlus

The Impact of Severe Dengue Fever on the Nervous System

Patients with severe dengue fever may experience headaches, changes in mental status, seizures, and even coma. The neurotropic nature of the virus means it can directly infect nerve cells, causing damage and inflammation. Additionally, the immune response caused by the infection can worsen these neurological problems, complicating management.

It is a vector-borne disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It is endemic in more than 100 countries and affects approximately 400 million people worldwide each year.

Dengue fever escalates significantly during the monsoon season due to increased mosquito breeding. During monsoon, stagnant water and higher humidity create ideal conditions for the Aedes mosquito to thrive, leading to a spike in dengue cases.

“Dengue can affect many parts of the human body, including the nervous system. When it affects the nervous system, the presentation will be like a brain fever. Patients could have altered consciousness levels and difficulty in talking, stroke, seizures or fits and could have bleeding in the brain also due to low platelet counts,” Dr Srikantha Swamy, Lead Senior Consultant, Neurology, Aster RV Hospital Bengaluru, told news agency IANS.

“As known, when platelets are low, it leads to bleeding in different parts of the body and could happen in the brain too. When platelets are low and a patient is diagnosed as dengue positive, then it affects the nervous system, and the progress is usually bad,” the doctor added.

The specialists pointed out that the necessity for early detection and treatment is underscored by the increased neurological consequences of dengue during the monsoon. Healthcare systems need to be more watchful during peak transmission seasons for indications of neurological involvement in dengue patients.

During the monsoon season, preventative efforts including controlling mosquito populations and educating the public are essential to reducing the negative effects of dengue on neurological health.

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