What is dengue and how is it treated?
Q: What is dengue and how is it treated?
A: Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. There are four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus (DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4). Symptoms appear in 3–14 days (average 4–7 days) after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults.
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Severe dengue is a potentially lethal complication but early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses often save lives.
More than 70% of the disease burden is in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the incidence and severity of disease have increased rapidly in recent years. The African and Eastern Mediterranean regions have also recorded more outbreaks of the disease in the last ten years. In 2010 indigenous transmission of dengue was also reported in two countries of Europe. Urbanization, rapid movement of people and goods, favorable climatic conditions and lack of trained staff have all contributed to the global increase of dengue. (WHO)
Dengue prevention in the home
Dengue mosquitoes only live and breed around your house and yard so the best way to protect yourself and your family from dengue fever is for you to empty water from containers and store undercover, or throw out, anything that can hold water. Dengue mosquitoes only need a small amount of water in a container to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into ‘wrigglers’ or larvae, and in 7-10 days become adult dengue mosquitoes, capable of spreading dengue fever.
Where dengue mosquitoes breed
The more containers you have around your home for dengue mosquitoes to breed, the more likely you are to have dengue mosquitoes. The more mosquitoes there are, the quicker the virus can spread and the greater your risk of getting dengue fever. This is why it is so important for everyone to do their bit to stop dengue mosquitoes breeding around their home. All it takes is one person with dengue fever in your neighbourhood to be bitten by a dengue mosquito, and then that mosquito can start infecting other people with the virus.
It is important to remember that under the Public Health Act 2005 it is an offence to have mosquitoes breeding on private property. To reduce your risk of getting dengue just remember these three simple steps: Tip It, Store It, Throw It
- Tip out water from things like pot plant bases, plastic containers, tarpaulins, tin cans or buckets.
- Store anything that can hold water undercover or in a dry place, including tyres, gardening equipment, toys, buckets, trailers or boats.
- Throw out any rubbish lying around your yard like leaves in gutters, fallen palm fronds and unused containers or tyres.
Remember, dengue mosquitoes do not breed in rivers, swamps, creeks, bush land or mangroves; they breed in containers in our backyard. Check around your yard every week for dengue mosquito breeding containers, particularly during the wet season (November to March) when there is more rain to fill the containers that dengue mosquitoes lay their eggs in.