Role of Platelet Transfusion in Dengue

Platelet Transfusion in Dengue

Understanding the role of platelet transfusion in dengue is crucial as it can be a life-saving intervention in severe cases. This article explains when platelet transfusion is needed, the correlation between fever progression and platelet count changes, and the risks associated with this procedure.

Understanding Dengue and Thrombocytopenia

Dengue, transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito carrying the virus, is a prevalent tropical disease. It is characterized by high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, and a characteristic skin rash. A dangerous complication of dengue is thrombocytopenia, a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of platelets in the blood. Platelets are critical for blood clotting; a significant drop in their count can lead to severe bleeding.

Role of Platelets in Dengue

When a patient is diagnosed with dengue, one of the primary concerns is the platelet count. Platelets play a vital role in clotting blood and preventing excessive bleeding. When the platelet count drops significantly, the patient becomes vulnerable to spontaneous bleeding, leading to complications like Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) or Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS).

Platelet Transfusion: When is it Necessary?

The average platelet count in the blood ranges between 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter. In dengue patients, a count below 100,000 is typically cause for concern. However, not all patients with low platelet counts require transfusion.

Indications for Platelet Transfusion in Dengue Patients:

  1. Platelet Count Below 10,000: Patients with a platelet count below 10,000 without any signs of bleeding are generally considered for transfusion.
  2. Significant Bleeding: Transfusion may be necessary for patients experiencing significant spontaneous bleeding, regardless of the platelet count.
  3. Before Invasive Procedures: Dengue patients requiring invasive procedures may be given prophylactic platelet transfusion to prevent bleeding complications.
  4. Rapid Decline in Platelet Count: Patients whose platelet counts are falling rapidly may be considered for transfusion even if their counts are not yet critically low.
  5. Presence of Co-Morbidities: Dengue patients with other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or any disease that could increase the risk of bleeding may also require platelet transfusion.
  6. Severe Dengue: Patients diagnosed with severe dengue (DHF or DSS) with evidence of bleeding tend to require platelet transfusions.
An overview of Platelet transfusion Indication.
An overview of Platelet transfusion Indication.

Fever Progression and Platelet Count

The progression of dengue fever usually follows a specific pattern over a period of about 14 days.

  1. Days 1-3: The initial phase is a sudden high fever. Platelet count usually remains normal or may slightly decrease.
  2. Days 4-6: As the high fever continues, the platelet count tends to start falling more rapidly.
  3. Days 7-9: Around this time, the fever typically breaks, but this is when the platelet count is usually at its lowest. This is the critical phase where severe complications can occur.
  4. Days 10-14: The recovery phase begins. The patient’s symptoms start to improve, and the platelet count begins to rise again.

Understanding this pattern can help physicians monitor the patient’s condition and decide if and when a platelet transfusion is required.

Risks of Platelet Transfusion

While platelet transfusion can be life-saving, it is not without risks. Possible complications can include allergic reactions, infection transmission, transfusion reactions like fever or chills, and, in rare cases, Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI). It’s also possible for patients to become refractory to platelet transfusions, meaning future transfusions become less effective.


Platelet transfusion plays a crucial role in managing severe dengue cases. However, the decision to proceed with this intervention should be carefully made, taking into account the patient’s overall condition, platelet count, rate of platelet fall, and presence of any bleeding or co-morbidities. It’s essential to balance the benefits of transfusion against the potential risks, always prioritizing the patient’s safety and well-being.


Q1: Is platelet transfusion always necessary in dengue? No, platelet transfusion is not always necessary in dengue. It’s generally reserved for cases with a platelet count below 10,000 without any signs of bleeding, significant spontaneous bleeding, a rapid decline in platelet count, or prior to invasive procedures.

Q2: Can dengue be treated without platelet transfusion? Yes, many cases of dengue can be treated without platelet transfusion. This includes rehydration, symptom management, and close monitoring of the patient’s condition.

Q3: What are the risks of platelet transfusion? Risks can include allergic reactions, transmission of infections, transfusion reactions like fever or chills, and Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI). In rare cases, patients can become refractory to platelet transfusions.

Q4: What happens to the platelet count during dengue fever? During dengue fever, the platelet count typically starts to fall after the onset of fever, reaching its lowest point around the time the fever breaks (days 7-9). After that, during the recovery phase, the platelet count usually starts to rise again.

Q5: Can platelet transfusion prevent complications in dengue? Platelet transfusion can potentially prevent bleeding complications in severe dengue cases. careful administration , considering both the benefits and potential risks.


  1. Dengue and severe dengue – World Health Organization
  2. Platelet Transfusion in Dengue Fever – PubMed Central
  3. Thrombocytopenia in Dengue: Interrelationship between Virus and the Imbalance between Coagulation and Fibrinolysis and Inflammatory Mediators – PubMed
  4. Dengue Fever: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments – Healthline
  5. Platelet Transfusion – A Clinical Practice Guideline From AABB – JAMA Network

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Platelet transfusion in Dengue plays a critical role in managing severe cases, especially when platelet counts drop significantly, leading to potential bleeding complications like Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) or Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS). Platelet transfusion is indicated when platelet counts fall below 10,000 without bleeding, in cases of significant bleeding, prior to invasive procedures, during a rapid platelet count decline, in the presence of co-morbidities, or for severe Dengue patients with bleeding symptoms. However, it’s essential to carefully weigh the benefits against the risks, which include allergic reactions, infection transmission, transfusion reactions, and rare occurrences of Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI). Patients may also become refractory to platelet transfusions. Monitoring the platelet count pattern during Dengue fever is crucial, with the lowest counts typically occurring around days 7-9. Overall, the decision to administer platelet transfusions should prioritize patient safety and well-being

Disclaimer: This article aims to provide information about the role of platelet transfusion in the treatment of dengue. The content does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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Tanzir Islam Britto

Hello, I'm Dr. Tanzir Islam Britto. As a dedicated physician, I've embarked on my medical journey at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College (BSMMC), previously known as Faridpur Medical College, where I pursued my Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). I completed my degree at Shahabuddin Medical College (SMC). Alongside my medical career, I am an amateur writer and an active social media advocate, where I share insights into health, wellness, and more.

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