Dengue can seriously affect your brain, nervous system: Doctors

Although dengue is known to cause mild flu-like symptoms, the mosquito-borne viral illness has profound neurological implications that are often overlooked, said experts on Tuesday. Amid the monsoon in India, dengue cases have spiralled 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 dengue cases in the national capital till June 30 this year. During the same period in 2023, Delhi saw 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, said.
“Neurological manifestations of dengue, 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.
Patients with severe dengue may experience headaches, altered mental status, seizures, and even coma. The virus’s neurotropic nature means it can directly infect neural cells, causing damage and inflammation. Furthermore, the immune response triggered by the infection can exacerbate these neurological issues, making management complex.