In the last year (2019), 1,36,422 people got infected with dengue and out of this, 132 people succumbed to it. This year, with COVID related deaths on the rise, the danger that dengue brings is almost forgotten. We can’t let that happen, dengue prevention is still key and so is dengue awareness. Here’s what you need to know –
What is dengue?
Dengue is considered a viral disease; it is spread through the bite of Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito thrives in hot and humid climates and they breed in water. When you are bitten, you will have a severe flu-like illness. In some cases, your symptoms might be mild, and sometimes it can cause a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue (aka dengue haemorrhagic fever).
What are the symptoms of dengue?
There are a few common symptoms of dengue that you should look at for, they are –
- Muscle and joint pain
- Bone pain
- Pain behind the eyes (might show up 3 to 14 days after getting the infection).
If you have severe dengue, then you need to watch out for these symptoms –
- Stomach pain, tenderness
- Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours)
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
- Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
- Feeling tired, restless, or irritable
- Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- Mental confusion
- Swelling of the liver and circulatory system failure
What do you do if you show symptoms of dengue?
Only 1 out of 4 people infected with dengue will fall sick. For those who do, you could either have mild symptoms or severe symptoms. The bad news is that there is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue. If you show signs of having dengue, then –
- Rest as much as possible.
- Drink lots of fluid and stay hydrated.
- Take a paracetamol to bring your fever down or control pain
If you have severe dengue, then go to a doctor or hospital to seek the right care. There is a Blood test for dengue and they will also measure your platelet count to see what course of action is to be taken.
What are some dengue prevention and control measures?
If you’re looking for dengue fever prevention or basic ways to prevent dengue and stop the spread of dengue, then there are 2 major steps you should take.
Step 1– Prevent mosquito bites
Step 2– Control the mosquito population by clearing up mosquito breeding sites
Step 1 is relatively easy. You need to use safe, insect repellent, wear long sleeves and full pants, put up mosquito netting around your beds and especially for babies and kids. Use screen doors and attach screens to windows to stop them from entering your home.
For step 2 there are a lot more things you need to keep in mind. The National Health Portal of India has suggested these steps to prevent the spread of dengue –
- The Aedes mosquito breeds in standing or still water this is why you should keep your surroundings clean and free from any water logging.
- Every week you must change the water in your coolers, drums, buckets, birdbaths, and flower vases.
- If you are using large containers/tubs or drums to collect water, then you must cover it properly.
- If you store drinking water, then you can use chemical larvicides such as Temephos.
- Ensure that regular fogging with pesticide sprays is done.
- Larvicidal bacteria such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)and larvicidal fish like gambusia can be used if you have an open water body nearby.
- Dispose of solid waste like unused tyres or anything else that could be an artificial or manmade habitat for mosquitoes.
It is also advised that patients who have dengue should stay in mosquito nets during the first week. This is to avoid a mosquito from biting an infected person and then biting a healthy person and passing on the disease.
As the monsoons approach, we need to be extra vigilant of still and standing water around our homes. If you notice any, clean it up or alert local authorities to help. Spread dengue awareness and stay safe this season.