Dengue is back in the news, and spreading in various states. When runs out of control, or if it is not detected early, dengue can be potentially life threatening. Why would you want to place your own life, or that of your loved ones in jeopardy when a few simple steps can prevent it? Most of the precautions are common sense ones. Therefore, here are a few pointers on what you can do to prevent getting dengue.
Dengue is a virus which spreads through the infected Aedes specie’s female mosquitoes’ bites. Normally, these mosquitoes are carriers of chikungunya. However, they become infected with the dengue virus when they bite an infected human, and then pass it on to a healthy individual when they bite. You are more at risk if you are immuno compromised. The incubation period could be anything from a week to ten days before the symptoms manifest themselves.
If you, or a loved one is suffering from high fever, intolerable headache ― especially back of the eyes ― or pain in the abdomen, back, bones, joints, or muscles; and/or rash or red spots; chills, fatigue, or loss of appetite with nausea or vomiting; then you should consult your doctor immediately. Do not dally over ordering the blood tests and other pathological tests your doctor might advise. In severe cases, there could be easy bruising, serious bleeding from the gums or nose, or in the stool, and shock, which might lead to severe complications, or become life threatening.
Your best bet would be to prevent the risk of dengue in the first place by reducing your risk of getting bitten by any mosquito, not just the dengue carrying ones. There are many ways that you can significantly reduce your risk of getting bitten by a mosquito. One is to cover up properly. Wear long sleeved clothes, and encase your legs in pants, salwars, leggings, jeggings, stockings, or sarees. The less exposed skin there is, the lower your chances of getting bitten by a mosquito. It isn’t only dogs that love to nip your ankles. Be watchful of your footwear as open sandals allow mosquitoes to bite you.
The dengue spreading mosquitoes are most active in the two hours after sunrise, and two hours before sunset. In some well-lit areas, these mosquitoes have been known to bite people at night too, since they are unable to differentiate between daylight, and artificial light. If possible, cover all your windows with a fine net screen. Then you can enjoy the light of the rising sun without fear of getting dengue. It will allow you to enjoy natural light and fresh air throughout the day and night. If you are on the top floor of the building or house, you might install a transparent skylight in rooms other than the bedroom/s where you would need both privacy, and darkness when you sleep.
There is little that you can do to prevent people from entering or leaving the house. Nor can you keep the front door shut all the time. Therefore, you can fix an ultraviolet above or near the doorway where no humans or pets are likely to come in line with of the ultraviolet rays. However, any kind of insect, not just mosquitoes, which flies in the range of the rays will be killed.
Garbage attracts flies and mosquitoes like little else does. Therefore, make sure that you empty the dustbin in the bathroom, and in the kitchen daily. Used covered garbage bins. Abandoned tires, cans, bags, cups, and boxes in your trash can collect water, and help mosquitoes thrive as such places are their favorite breeding grounds. Of course, dengue mosquitoes prefer clean stagnant water found in air conditioners, and in the drainage tray of refrigerators. Remember to drain them at least once a week, or every five days.
Mosquitoes love to lurk in the dark corners of the home. When you keep the rooms well-lit, especially with plenty of sunshine; you keep not just dengue spreading mosquitoes at bay, but also those which spread diseases like malaria etc. It is not always practical to light up dark areas of the house or flat. Closets, behind curtains, and under beds are some of their hiding places. You should burn camphor once in the morning, and again in the evening to chase the mosquitoes into the open.
Stagnant water is dengue’s best friend. Therefore, you should overturn empty containers like pails and buckets to prevent them from collecting water. Use covered buckets and drums to store water. Ensure that you do not over water potted plants, and clear out all empty flowerpots which might have collected rainwater. Keep cleaning, and periodically emptying the water bowls of domestic pets at home. Keep changing the water in the bowls kept for birds on the balcony. In case there are some vessels from which it is not practical to drain the water from, then pour some kerosene over the water surface weekly to prevent any larvae from hatching in it. Repair broken septic tanks, and cover vent pipes, if any, with wire mesh, or some other kind of net.
Plant mosquito repellent plants: Discard water plants at home, and plant mosquito repellent plants like marigolds, rosemary, lemon grass, basil, lavender, eucalyptus, scented geraniums, catnip, and garlic instead. Though the neem tree per se does not repel mosquitoes; burning its leaves does chase out the vectors.
There are several kinds of mosquito repellents in the market. Coils, oils, creams, sprays, patches, and wipes are some of your options. Whether you use a mosquito repellent spray in the room, light up a coil, or stick a liquidator in the wall, you need to keep the mosquitoes away from yourself, and from everyone else in the house. Since it is not practical to sit under the mosquito net when you are working on a laptop, studying, doing some housework, or cooking in the kitchen; it makes sense to apply some mosquito repellent cream on exposed skin, or use a patch on clothing before you begin on your task. These days, some repellent creams come with Vitamin E to protect the quality of your skin. Spray some insecticide where mosquitoes are likeliest to breed.
Burning mosquito coils, used mosquito repellent mats, fats cards, dried lavender leaves, and papier mâché egg trays are some of the best way to chase out the dengue mosquitoes. However, if you or a loved one is allergic to smoke, then you would better advised to light a lavender oil lamp. Request your local civic authorities use a smoke cannon after advising residents to stay indoors. When used in the more affected areas, it can radically reduce the mosquito population. Some people burn the dry leaves, and dried grass of their gardens to get rid of the mosquitoes. However, the downside of such action is that asthmatic people, and those who are allergic to smoke might prefer to run the gauntlet of dengue infection than risk the air pollution which a smoke cannon or burning dry leaves, and dried grass present. It would actually more environmentally friendly to allow the garden garbage to reduce to compost and/or mulch.
Get a full night’s uninterrupted sleep, and protect yourself from dengue by sleeping under a mosquito net. Some people might feel claustrophobic under a mosquito net. For such people, using a topical application, and lighting a liquidator might prove a safer option.