Protect Your Home From Dengue
The Aedis aegypti and Aedis albopictus are deadly as snakes, and far less visible.
Treat the virus immediately
There was a time when only one skin repellant was in the market that we could use against mosquito bites. Without naming the brand, I must say that it was awful. You felt like all the pores on your skin were covered and filled and shut with plastic, and it was very uncomfortable to use during the day. People are luckier now. There are a wide selection of skin products to use against mosquitoes that are far more comfortable and even produce a lovely scent.
The fact is that right now, there is no vaccination for dengue, (except dengvaxia which only works on people who have already had dengue fever once); and no medication to address dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).
There are, however, ways to treat and manage patients who incur the virus. However, the best results occur when the virus is treated immediately. There are also ways to make our homes safer by preventing the dengue mosquito from entering our dwelling and thriving indoors. And, we can make our gardens very unfriendly to dengue mosquitos. When going outdoors, we can take precautions and use lotions that will combat the ability of the dengue mosquito from infecting us. And we can feel very comfortable using these anti-mosquito lotions.
Small and exceedingly terrible
What is Dengue and Chikungunya?
Both are illnesses transmitted by the infected mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both illnesses share similar symptoms, i.e. fatigue, headache, high grade fever, joint pain, joint swelling, muscle pain, nausea, rash, and vomiting. In both cases the symptoms occur three to seven days after the bite by an infected mosquito.
Chikungunya is a more benign version of dengue. There is no danger of fatality, but the joint pains tend to be so severe that it is sometimes incapacitating. In the case of dengue, death is rare but can happen if there are complications.
To make things easier, when we say dengue mosquitoes, we will be referring to both the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
It is not a bird or a plane, it's the dengue mosquito
- They aren’t born that way. Dengue mosquitoes only become carriers of the disease when they bite a human who already has dengue. The dengue-infected mosquito then transfers the illness to another person when they bite the second person (they can infect the person if they have already carried the virus for eight to twelve days, after which, it will continue to spread the infection for some four weeks, the life span of dengue mosquitoes.
- Like Steve Jobs. The male dengue mosquitoes are harmless fruitarians. (Steve Jobs was also a fruitarian at one stage of his life).
- It’s for their babies. The female eats blood to mature her eggs.
- Daybreak. The female mosquitoes usually bite two hours after the sun has risen, and several hours before the sun sets. They eat at intervals of one to two hours.
- Bottom level bites. These mosquitos mainly bite the feet and ankles. They lurk under tables and chairs to get their vampiric (the word exists, check dictionary.com) share.
- Speckles. Dengue mosquitoes are small and dark but they have white speckles on their legs.
- Women Power? Not. But the female insects are larger than the male.
- They love your house. They nest in closets and dark spaces that are cool and shaded.
- The eggs are like tiyanaks. The female mosquito dengue carriers pass the virus to their eggs. These monster eggs are laid in clean water and become adults within two weeks.
- Evolution of super mosquito. The Dengue mosquito has adapted to living with people. Their wings don’t make the usual humming sound that other mosquitos make, allowing us to slap them. They can fly in your face but rarely will you kill them because they fly fast (unless they had their fill of blood, then they slow down a bit).
What to do about Dengue and Chikungunya
At present, there is a vaccination that prevents the recurrence of dengue if you had it once before. But there is no vaccine to prevent dengue from children who have not yet had it. There are, however, many traditional ways that can prevent the occurrence of dengue fever. They include:
What the government can do:
- 1. Mobilize communities. Government workers can mobilize vulnerable communities to get rid of cans, buckets, jars, or tires that collect clean water. The people can be encouraged to change daily water that collects in potted plants or junk such as rubber tires and the like. People can be taught to do this regularly.
- 2. Cover areas of water storage. The government can provide vulnerable communities with fine mesh to keep the mosquitoes out of their water storage bins, disabling them from laying eggs on a family’s main water source.
- 3. No water system? The government can install a water system that provides clean water directly to the homes of a vulnerable community. This will be a better system than storing water in home containers or using public wells.
- 4. Everything helps. People can be mobilized to clear blocked street drains and gutters. Any open water containers should be cleaned every week to fully eliminate mosquito eggs.
- 5. Teach. Knowledge is power and by teaching communities about dengue prevention, people will understand how doing the abovementioned benefits them and their loved ones.
What you can do
- Keep them out of your house. Use window and door screens and use the air conditioner during the daytime.
- Cover up. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors. Also mosquito repellents that contain DEET, IR3535, lemon eucalyptus oil, Neem, or picaridin, as the active ingredient are recommended by The Centers for Disease Control. For babies and children, look for products that are recommended for their age group.
- Waterboard them. A mosquito Ovitrap is a black, cylindrical receptacle that is filled with water – seemingly ideal for a dengue carrier to lay her eggs. However the eggs, when hatched, are trapped in the container due to a mesh cover so they stay in the water until they die. Remember to constantly check your Ovitrap lest they become breeding habitats instead of killing habitats.
- Chemical warfare. Use insecticides but only during dengue epidemics. Insecticides should not be used regularly. Bioinsecticides are safer, such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (a soil bacterium specific for mosquitoes), pyriproxyfen, and methoprene.
- Go fish. Set up a nice, decorative pond in your garden, and fill it with Mosquito fish, which eat mosquito eggs and larvae, and add some fun, pretty koi as well. The two fish are compatible. Other enemies of the dengue mosquito are dragonflies, beetle larvae and aquatic turtles.
- Check your Ming Vase. Okay, even if you keep your live flowers in old wine and beer bottles, you have to check them or go plastic. Also check other containers where eggs may breed, plant pots and pot trays, canvas and plastic sheets.
- Spray dark corners. This includes behind your curtains, inside your closet, under the bed, and other such places.
- Check outdoors. This includes perimeter drains, discarded containers, gully traps, bamboo pole holders, flower pots, and roof gutters.
- How are the neighbors doing? If there are more than 10 cases of dengue in your neighborhood, it could spell trouble and you will have to be extra vigilant in keeping you and your family safe from dengue.
- Trees. A study published in The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health identified five trees that kill mosquitoes, including dengue mosquitoes. They are:
- Anona squamosa (this tree produces the fruit "atis" also called sugar apple).
- Eucalyptus globulus (also known as "bagras" or olive gum eucalyptus).
- Lansium domesticum (which bears the delicious "lansones" fruit).
- Azadirachta indica (known for its popular herb, "neem").
- Codiaeum variegatum (also called "San Francisco" or croton).
What to do if you think you have dengue
According to the Center for Disease Control the most compelling symptoms are a high fever and two or more of the symptoms below:
- Joint pain
- Low white cell count
- Mild bleeding manifestation (e.g., nose or gum bleed, petechiae, or easy bruising)
- Muscle and/or bone pain
- Severe eye pain (behind eyes)
- Severe headache
In such case, be alert. When the fever declines (within 3 to 7 days from the start of the symptoms), new symptoms may occur. GO IMMEDIATELY to the hospital if the ff. signs occur:
- Black, tarry stools (excrement)
- Bleeding nose or gums
- Cold or clammy skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Irritability, drowsiness
- Pale skin
- Red spots or patches on the skin
- Severe abdominal pain
- Vomiting blood
- Vomiting persistently
In a rare, but worst case scenario there may be failure of the circulatory system, shock, and possibly death (unless there is immediate, appropriate treatment). Other symptoms are a low platelet count, bruising easily, hemorhages on the skin or through the nose and gums, and the possibility of internal bleeding.
Just as there is no specific vaccine for people who never had dengue, there is also no specific medication for dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). If it is identified early, DHF can be treated with fluid replacement therapy and hospital management.
Word of warning: If you are experiencing pain and you think it is dengue related with a high fever, do not use medications such as ibuprofen, Naproxen, aspirin, or aspirin that contains drugs. Instead, use acetaminophen pain relievers, drink a lot of fluids, and rest. It is okay to consult a doctor while you still have the fever.