The health department is yet to release data on the number of children affected by dengue, but doctors maintain kids form a ‘significant chunk’ of the patients. Doctors say the number of infants being admitted with high-grade fever is increasing, with temperatures hovering between 103° and 104°F. “Currently, there are 12 children with dengue in our wards,” said Dr Narayanaswamy, founder and medical director of Athreya Hospital.
Cold hands and feet can be a sign of serious illness, indicating a leak phase. Dengue is about fluid imbalance in the body, said Dr Supraja Chandrasekar, senior consultant paediatrician and paediatric intensivist at DHEE super specialty hospitals. Once dengue reaches a critical stage, fluids in blood vessels start leaking and as a result, the blood becomes concentrated and circulation slow. Owing to this, the peripheries – feet, tip of nose, palms – get inadequate blood supply. “If you squeeze the child’s hand with your fingers and release it after three seconds, you’ll notice marks as the normal colour doesn’t return. It shows the circulation is poor,” she explained. The child could develop puffiness around the eyes or stomach ache during the leak phase and may need a blood test.
Symptoms like vomiting three or more times, rashes in the body or bleeding should also not be ignored. Children who develop these require medical supervision. If fever doesn’t subside even after the fifth day, the child should stay in the hospital.
“I tell parents not to get blood tests done and then come to hospital. What they do is platelet test, which is of no use. They should ideally go for tests to find out how thick the child’s blood is. If it is getting thicker despite adequate fluid intake, the child should be admitted,” said Dr Chandrasekar, who has treated a lot of children on outpatient basis this year.
Most kids with dengue are found to have higher liver enzymes. It is important to keep the afflicted kids hydrated, say experts.