Basic Facts for Public Education
Dengue is the most widespread mosquito-borne infection in human beings, which in recent years has become a major international public health concern. Over the last 15 years, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the global incidence of dengue and its severe manifestations such as dengue hemorrhagic fever. Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness with fever, headache and muscle and joint pains that affects children and adults, but seldom causes death. Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a potentially deadly complication in about 1-3% of cases that begins with a sudden rise in temperature which usually continues for two to seven days and can be as high as 40-41°C. In moderate DHF cases, all signs and symptoms abate after the fever subsides. In severe cases, the patient’s condition may suddenly deteriorate after a few days of fever when the temperature drops, followed by signs of circulatory failure. With modern intensive supportive therapy, the fatality rates can be reduced to less than 1%.
How is Dengue spread?
Dengue is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The mosquito gets the virus by biting an infected person. The first symptoms of the disease occur about 5-7 days after the infected bite. There is no way to tell if a mosquito is carrying the Dengue virus. Therefore, people must protect themselves from all mosquito bites.
How can we prevent Dengue?
Prevent mosquito bites
o Dengue mosquitoes bite during the daytime – protect yourself from the bite.
o Wear full-sleeve clothes and long dresses to cover the limbs. Avoid wearing black color.
o Use repellents. Care should be taken in using repellents on very young children or the elderly
o Use mosquito coils and electric vapor mats during the daytime to prevent mosquito bites
o Use insecticide treated nets (ITNs) to protect young children, pregnant women, old people, in addition to others who may rest during the day.
o Curtains (cloth or bamboo) can also be treated with insecticide and hung at windows or doorways, to repel or kill mosquitoes.
Where do mosquitoes live and breed?
Dengue mosquitoes breed in stored, exposed, water collection systems. The favoured breeding places are: barrels, drums, jars, pots, buckets, flower vases, plant saucers, tanks, discarded bottles/tins, tyres, or water coolers, and other places where rainwater collects or is stored. The mosquito eggs become adults in about 10 days.
o Drain out the water from window air coolers when not in use, as well as draining all unused tanks, barrels, drums, and buckets.
o Remove all objects containing water such as plant saucers from the house.
o All stored water containers should be kept covered at all times.
o Collect and destroy discarded containers in which water collects, such as bottles, plastic bags, tins, tyres, etc.
o Efficient disposal of all solid waste/garbage.
How should we take care of a Dengue patient?
· Keep body temperature below 39oC. Give the patient paracetamol (not more than four times in 24 hours). Fever can also be reduced by sponging patient with tepid water.
· Do not give the patient Aspirin or Ibuprofen (Brufen) or similar medicine for fever or pain. Give only paracetamol.
· Give large amounts of fluids (water, soups, milk and juices) along with the patient’s normal diet
· The patient should rest
· Immediately consult your physician if any of the following manifestations appear: Red spots or points on the skin; bleeding from the nose or gums; frequent vomiting; vomiting with blood; black stools; sleepiness; constant crying; abdominal pain; excessive thirst (dry mouth); pale, cold or clammy skin; or difficulty in breathing.