Dengue fever is a very old disease, first recognised in China about two thousand years ago. It is common in South -East Asia and the Pacific region but also occurs in North America, Africa, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean region.
The disease is caused by Dengue virus and characterised by high fever, body pains, severe headache, bleeding into the skin and/or nose bleeds. There are four types of dengue virus.
The fever is more important to us today because its symptoms are similar to those of Ebola fever. Both have no cure, only supportive treatment is available. Death from dengue is also high but spread is not as rapid as that of Ebola fever. Occasionally epidemics of the disease occur.
Dengue fever is spread by female mosquitoes- Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.The latter is said to be more incriminated in Nigeria; the last case of Dengue reported recently is linked to this mosquito.
The mosquito bites man during daytime, carries the virus if the man is infected and may pass it on to any other person it bites.
Occasionally, a pregnant woman may pass the virus to the baby in her womb.
Dengue fever affects infants, children and adults.
Those living in areas where rainfall is high are more at risk because it encourages mosquito breeding and the temperature shortens the development period of the virus to make it dangerous. Bleeding from the nose and into the skin associated with Dengue fever occurs more in children under the age of 15 years.
Another group at risk consists of those who live in the same house with someone with dengue fever.
The spread of the disease is also facilitated by the presence of the infected mosquito where a large number of people occupy a place at the same time such as cinema houses, hospitals, offices, hospitals, schools and factories.
According to WHO, Dengue fever is fastest growing infection spread by mosquitoes with over 400 million infections annually around the world.
A few mosquitoes could bite a lot of people.
You can avoid the infection by the following actions:
1. Use of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets
To get Dengue fever, you have to be bitten by a mosquito that has the virus,as long as you are not bitten by such mosquito, you cannot have Dengue fever.Sleeping inside” long lasting insecticide treated nets” saves you from mosquito bites. Part of the activities of “roll back malaria” is the distribution of these treated mosquito nets to individuals, mostly pregnant women which protects against mosquito bites Please ensure that you get this net and also use it when you get it.
2. Regular Spraying of your home; inside and outside
Regular fumigation of your home reduces the mosquito population in your house, this is called Indoor Residual Spraying. The outside of the building should also be sprayed.
This should be done every three months but it is expensive. The Local Government Council usually has a unit that does the spraying at affordable cost.
No mosquitoes, no dengue fever.
3. Use of wire meshing on windows and doors.
Wire meshing on windows and doors prevents mosquitoes from entering the house but you could be bitten by them if you went out not properly dressed.
No mosquitoes, no Dengue fever.
4. Use of full-length clothes in the evening/night.
Wearing full-length clothes in the evening and night saves you from mosquito bites; trousers and long sleeved shirts.
No mosquitoes, no Dengue fever.
5. Proper Management of your environment
Managing your environment can reduce the number of mosquitoes around you. If allowed, cover the drainages around your home. All possible containers of static water must be removed from the premises, this includes used
tyres, broken bottles, tins, and any other materials that can retain water.
This is meant to prevent the growth of mosquitoes.
A vaccine against Dengue has been approved in Mexico, Philippines and India by the individual countries; the World Health Organization is yet to give global approval. The vaccine approved by the Mexican government for use in Mexico is produced by the global healthcare company, Sanofi Pasteur.