Stop Dengue at Its Source

While many of us understand the threat of dengue fever, the fight to keep our environment free from aedes mosquitoes is hampered by apathy. This is why there has been a resurgence of dengue fever in urban areas.

The aedes mosquito breeds in clear, stagnant water, so containers with water that are not cleared for more than 2 days may become the breeding ground for the mosquito.

There are a lot of places for water to collect, such as flower pot bases, rooftops, blocked drain gutters and in empty containers or bottles left in the open. Many people do not bother to check these water traps often, allowing for the aedes mosquito larvae to breed there.

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Other common breeding ground are abandoned housing or building projects. Because no one checks on them or cleans them up, mosquitoes can easily breed there. There have been cases where dengue fever broke out and it is found that the mosquitoes originated from an abandoned building.

While it is essentially the job of local authorities to clean up such places, the public also need to play a role. If a member of the public sees or suspects a certain place to be breeding aedes mosquitoes, he/she must contact the authorities immediately and get them to do an inspection of the premises.

Prevention Methods

The most commonly known method for eliminating the aedes mosquito is fogging. This involves the spraying of insecticide to kill the mosquito or its larvae in areas where there are cases of dengue fever. It is often done in the morning and evening when the aedes mosquitoes are most active.

Ikhsan said the ministry has implemented several community projects to involve the people in realising the threat of dengue and to help clean up their neighbourhoods.

While the people are aware that there is a certain larvicide they can use to kill aedes mosquito larvae, many do not know where to get it. The right larvicide is Abate, and it kills the aedes mosquito larvae in water containers. While normally we should regularly clean and wash all water containers such as the ones used for drinking and bathing, some water containers cannot be emptied, such as those on the roof.

Instead, residents can buy the larvicide and mix one teaspoon for every 100 litres of water. The larvicide will work for three months, or until you can change the water.

Understanding Dengue

Dengue fever is a flu-like viral disease, spread by the bite of infected, day-biting aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The mosquito transmits the disease by biting an infected person and then biting someone else.

This virus has four flavours, called serotypes, which are named 1, 2, 3 and 4. Getting infected with one serotype does not protect you against the other serotypes; in fact, getting a second dengue infection leads to an even worse infection.

There are 2 distinct clinical forms of the disease - simple "classical" dengue and the less common but much more dangerous - dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. The latter is a severe, often fatal, complication of dengue. It is particularly dangerous in children, who suffer the most and who are at the greatest risk.

Dengue has a short incubation period - often days, usually less than a week.

The signs and symptoms of dengue include a sudden, rapidly climbing fever, a severe headache, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, rash and deep muscle and joint pains. The disease is nicknamed "breakbone fever" for these last two symptoms.

The rash usually shows up 3 to 4 days after the start of the symptoms and begins on the torso, spreading out to the face, arms and legs. The illness can last up to 10 days, but complete recovery can take as long as a month.

With dengue haemorrhagic fever, the blood cells are crippled and bleeding develops - in the gums, the skin and the intestinal tract. Bruising can be a sign of bleeding inside the body.

Without prompt treatment, the blood vessels can collapse, leading to dengue shock syndrome. This is fatal in about 5% of cases, mostly among children and young adults.

Dengue is diagnosed by a blood test. There is no specific treatment for dengue, no vaccine and no cure. This leaves us with prevention being the only option. Prevention centres on avoiding mosquito bites in areas where dengue occurs or might occur and eliminating breeding sites.

The aedes mosquito likes to bite in the mornings and evenings, often indoors or in the shade. The aedes mosquito is a day biter, so during daylight hours, in areas where mosquitoes are present, protect yourself by properly using anti-mosquito measures.

Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites

* Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing.
* When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks. To keep from over-heating and from aggressive mosquito punctures, wear loose-fitting clothes.
* Avoid heavily populated residential areas.
* When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas. Use mosquito nets if sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned.

More info on DENGUE HERE.

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