Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease caused due to the bite of the infected female Aedes mosquito. Diagnosing dengue fever can be difficult without laboratory tests because its signs and symptoms may correlate with those of diseases like malaria, chikungunya or typhoid fever.
So, dengue fever testing is undertaken to certify whether a person exhibiting the signs and symptoms of dengue, has in fact been infected with the dengue virus.
Let’s take a closer look of some of these tests.
Molecular testing is a form of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which means that through this laboratory testing method, a large number of copies can be made from short sections of DNA from a very small sample of genetic material.
This is called “amplifying” the DNA and it enables specific genes of interest to be detected. Hence, molecular testing is used to detect the genetic material of the dengue virus within the patient’s blood. It can be used to determine which serotype among the 4 recognized strains of dengue virus are causing the infection.
Molecular testing may not detect the virus 7 days after the illness; it can be used to detect the virus within the first week after the symptoms appear. If the result of a PCR test is negative, an antibody test can be conducted to diagnose the disease.
Antibody tests are primarily conducted to help diagnose a current or recent infection. These tests detect two different classes of antibodies produced by the body in response to the dengue fever infection, namely, IgM and IgG. A combination of these tests may be required as the body’s immune system produces varying amounts of these antibodies over the course of the illness.
As IgM antibodies are produced first, the tests for IgM is most effective if the test is conducted within 7-10 days after exposure. IgM levels in the blood rise for a few weeks then they gradually decrease and after a few months, these antibodies fall below detectable levels.
IgG antibodies are generally produced more slowly in response to an infection. Normally, their levels rise if an acute infection is present, stabilize and then persist long-term. If a patient has been exposed to the virus previously as well, their immune system tends to maintain a level of IgG antibodies in their blood. This trait may infect the interpretation of the diagnostic results.
When should these tests be conducted?
Your doctor may advise you to get your blood checked for the dengue virus if you exhibit the signs and symptoms usually associated with dengue fever. Some of these symptoms include:
To know more about the signs and symptoms of dengue, click here.
How to protect yourself from dengue?
With no vaccines available for dengue fever, the most effective way to protect yourself against dengue is to keep the dengue-spreading mosquitoes at bay. Be sure to check for any sources of stagnant water in and around your place as they can act as dengue breeding grounds. For more information on dengue breeding grounds, click here.
Goodknight Fabric Roll-On is a handy way to protect yourself against mosquitoes outdoors. Just apply 4 dots of this personal mosquito repellent on your clothes to ward off mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. It is made using 100% natural ingredients.
During the day, be sure to switch on the 2x power of Goodknight Activ+ System at home as dengue mosquitoes are more active during the day. One can choose between the Normal and Activ modes, depending on the number of mosquitoes.