Dengue fever also called dengue is a potentially fatal, epidemic disease caused by a virus. Dengue viruses are transmitted between humans by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Dengue is a common and a serious public health treat in warm sub-tropical and tropical areas of the world including Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India, Middle East, Australia, the Caribbean and the South and Central Pacific.
Dengue symptoms start within 5-6 days of being bitten by the infected mosquito. The symptoms include:
• High fever
• Severe headache
• Severe joint and muscle pain
• Nausea and vomiting
• Skin rash
• Bleeding from the nose, gums or the under the skin, causing purplish bruises.
The spread of dengue can be prevented by taking the following measures:
• Avoiding mosquito bites by using mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
• Eliminating pockets of stagnant water that serve as mosquito breeding sites at home, workplaces or their vicinity.
• Not storing water in open containers and covering all water containers with lids.
• Preventing mosquito entry by keeping doors closed and windows screened.
• Wearing preventive clothing like long sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outside.
• Using mosquito nets at home.
• Scrubbing and cleaning margins of containers used for storing water (to dislodge the eggs of Aedes aegypti, the carrier mosquito)
• Covering overhead tank to prevent access to mosquitoes.
• Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day; therefore, special precautions should be taken during early morning hours before day break and in the late afternoon before dark.
It should be noted that there are no commercially available dengue vaccines. The best way to prevent dengue fever is to take special precautions to avoid contact with the mosquitoes.