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Management of dengue fever in ICU

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Dengue virus infection can cause a wide spectrum of illness. Thrombocytopenia with concurrent haemoconcentration differentiates dengue haemorrhagic fever from classical dengue fever. Only cases with shock or unstable vitals signs need admission in the pediatric intensive care. The management is essentially supportive and symptomatic. The key to success is frequent monitoring and changing strategies. A rise in hematocrit of 20% along with a continuing drop in platelet count is an important indicator for the onset of shock. Patients in grade I and II should be closely monitored for signs of shock. The management of dengue shock syndrome (grade III and IV) is a medical emergency needing prompt and adequate fluid replacement for the rapid and massive plasma losses through increased capillary permeability. Early and effective replacement of plasma losses with plasma expanders or fluid and electrolyte solutions results in a favourable outcome in most cases. The ideal fluid management should include both cystalloids and colloids (including albumin). Cystalloids are given as boluses as rapidly as possible, and as many as 2 to 3 boluses may be needed in profound shock. Colloidal fluids are indicated in patients with massive plasma leakage and in whom a large volume of cystalloids has been given. Frequent recording of vital signs and determinations of haematocrit are important in evaluating the results of treatment. Apart from correction of electrolyte and metabolic disturbances, oxygen is mandatory in all patients of shock. Some patients develop DIC and need supportive therapy with blood products (blood, FFP and platelet transfusions). Polyserositis, in the form of pleural effusion and ascitis, are common in cases of dengue shock syndrome, and if possible, drainage should be avoided as it can lead to severe hemorrhages and sudden circulatory collapse. The prognosis depends mainly on the early recognition and treatment of shock.

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Correspondence to Krishan Chugh.

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Soni, A., Chugh, K., Sachdev, A. et al. Management of dengue fever in ICU. Indian J Pediatr 68, 1051–1055 (2001).

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