Avoiding Dengue Fever

2010 Howard Platt January 2010

By Howard Platt  from the January 2010 Edition

Facts about the Aedes mosquito:

– it lives where people live, in homes and gardens in urban areas of over 100 countries of the world including the southern USA and Hawaii;

– the female needs human blood to produce eggs;

– she prefers to bite during the day around daybreak or late afternoon before dark;

– the mosquito’s eggs can hatch and grow up in the tiny amounts of water found in things like discarded cans, bottles or other trash; flower vases, bird baths, flower pots or even home toilet tanks;

– the female can pick up dengue virus when she bites a person with dengue fever;

– the viruses multiply inside her and is then be passed on to the next person she bites;

– she can bite through very thin clothing, but not thicker clothing;

– she does not like repellents such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus;

– she cannot fly through closed doors or windows or mosquito screens;

– she rarely travels more than a couple of hundred yards from where she hatched;

– she likes to rest in shady places such as closets or under beds.

Facts about Dengue Fever:
– it is caused by one of four viruses;

– there is no specific cure, but severe cases are helped by supportive care;

– during outbreaks most people (more than half the population) will probably be infected;

– most cases are very mild and are mistaken for flu;

– more severe cases cause a fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and a rash that looks like pin-point size bruises;

– once you have been infected by one you are immune to that one but not to the others;

– outbreaks are occurring more and more often in all tropical and subtropical countries;

– the World Health Organization estimates that there are about 50 million cases every year.

So, here is what you do to avoid it:
– help keep your local environment tidy and free of breeding places;
– use mosquito screens, or close the doors and windows;

– use mosquito repellents such as DEET especially around dawn and dusk;

– spray closets, bathrooms and under the bed with insecticide once in a while;

– if you do get it, seek medical care and avoid aspirin and NSAIDS.

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