Dengue is an acute viral infection characterized by fever and a rash. It is one of the most common mosquito-borne diseases. It is a major health concern today, especially during the rainy season. Often, dengue outbreaks are caused by poor sanitation and crowded living conditions.
The dengue virus is spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes typically bite during the day and remain close to their breeding area. They lay eggs in clear and stagnant water found in flower vases, plastic food containers, cans, drums, rain barrels, old rubber tires, even leaves that catch water. The adult mosquitoes like to rest in dark places.
Dengue is widespread in most parts of the country and is most active after the rains. During the rainy season (June to September), cases of dengue shoot up. At this time, the warm humid weather and stagnant water provide a perfect breeding ground for the mosquitoes. However, as rain is not limited to the rainy season, and because of poor sanitation practices, we actually do encounter dengue cases all year round.
The typical dengue symptoms are:
• sudden onset of high fever which may last two to seven days
• joint and muscle pain
• pain behind the eyes
• skin rashes — maculopapular rash (large redarea with small bumps) or red tiny spots onthe skin called petechiae
• nose bleeding as fever starts to subside
• abdominal pain
• vomiting of coffee-colored matter
• dark-colored stools
There is no vaccine against dengue. Your best bet to protect you and your child is to take preventive measures against mosquitoes that spread the virus.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and warm, humid weather. Make sure your house and the surrounding area are free of uncovered stagnant water, rotting vegetation, and old flower pots especially during the rainy season.
You can take these preventive measures:
• Dress your child in long-sleeved clothing and pants, especially if he plays outdoors.
• Choose light-colored clothing instead of dark clothing.
• Install mosquito screens on windows.
• Use mosquito nets while sleeping. Air conditioning also helps prevent mosquitoes to a certain extent.
• Cover water drums and water pails at all times to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
• Replace water in flower vases once a week.
• Clean all water containers once a week — scrub the sides well to remove mosquito eggs sticking to the sides.
• Empty gutters of leaves and debris so that rain water will not collect and become breeding places of mosquitoes.
• Puncture or slash old tires being used as roof support to avoid accumulation of water.
• Dispose all unusable tin cans, jars, bottles and other items that can collect and hold water.