Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by certain mosquitoes – the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which are common in tropical regions around the world. There are four types of dengue fever virus, numbered 1 to 4. A person is immune only to a particular type once he has had it. Further infections with a different type lead to a higher chance of severe or complicated dengue. Some people with dengue need urgent medical treatment for complications such as shock or hemorrhage.
Identifying diverse species of mosquito without a microscope is difficult. Dengue mosquitoes only live around humans and buildings, and not in a bush or rural areas. Females lay eggs in containers holding water. The eggs hatch into wrigglers and then develop into adult mosquitoes within a week or two.
Dengue mosquitoes are not born with dengue virus. However, once one bites a person with the virus in his blood, that mosquito can become infectious. It can afterward pass the virus on to another human. Only elderly females can transmit dengue fever. The mosquito remains infectious during its life, and can infect a handful of people.
People get sick from 3 to 14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. While sick with dengue, another bite could give the virus into a new dengue mosquito. This starts the next cycle of disease. Catching different types of dengue increases the risk of producing a side complication of severe dengue, which may cause bleeding, shock or even life threatening. Remember, dengue does not spread from person to person.
Signs and Symptoms
- loss of hair and appetite
- sudden onset of fever
- intense headache
- muscle and joint pain
- vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
- itching, peeling of skin
- the flushed skin on face and neck
- red rash on arms and legs
- minor bleeding and heavy menstrual periods
- See a doctor immediately if you have symptoms of dengue.
- Rest at home. Make sure you drink water and fluids even if you cannot eat.
- Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent or mosquito repellent devices. Stay in a screened or air-conditioned room if possible.
- Use paracetamol for pain. Do not exceed the recommended dose.
- Stay away from aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs since they increase the chance of bleeding.
Prevention and Control
Unlike bush or swamp mosquitoes, dengue mosquitoes breed in junk and containers. Dengue mosquitoes grow in anything that accumulates water: buckets, tarpaulins, pot plant bases, tires, vases, blocked gutters, coconut shells, and even palm fronds. Neglected boats, tubs, pools or rainwater tanks can breed thousands of dengue mosquitoes. Remove all breeding sites around your residential area. Check in and around your house every week. Get rid of old containers or put them in a dry place.
If you travel to or live in a place with dengue, try to avoid dengue mosquitoes. They bite quietly, during day and night. Clean out living and sleeping areas. Wear light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and gloves. Use insect repellent containing picaridin or DEET (diethyl toluamide) and follow instructions on the label. Dengue mosquitoes often sneak in dark places or behind and under furniture. Use surface spray insecticide to kill them. Repeat the spray monthly.
If you contract dengue fever, see a professional and get tested. Infected dengue mosquitoes could target your family or neighbors. Report your situation to local councils and healthcare centers so that they can stop it spreading further in your neighborhood. Traps, insecticide sprays, and non-toxic products will be used to prevent wrigglers’ development.
Dengue Fever Worldwide
Dengue fever is raging in Africa, South-East Asia, the Americas, the Mediterranean region, the Caribbean, and the Western Pacific region. It is epidemic in around 100 countries; the virus is always there and ready to be transmitted by dengue mosquitoes. Increased holiday and business travel to dengue epidemic nations have increased the risk of dengue fever from country to country quickly, making outbreaks more familiar. The number of dengue cases in the world is increasing each year.
Dengue Mosquito Behavior
Dengue mosquitoes develop in man-made areas since they prefer to produce eggs in containers in domestic environments. The female dengue mosquito has to feed on humans to lay eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae or wrigglers and then take about 7-10 days to become adult mosquitoes.
These mosquitoes do not like to fly far. They only fly between 50-200 meters, depending on the source of food (human blood) and containers. Therefore, once dengue mosquitoes grow in your backyard, they will never be leaving until you get rid of their breeding sites.
In order to prevent the dengue mosquito breeding, it is crucial to check around your home every week and empty out any potential breeding sites. Dengue mosquitoes prefer to rest in dark areas inside homes or underneath houses and buildings. Unlike other types of mosquitoes that operate at night, they prefer to bite humans during daylight hours. Some of their favorite resting spots are under beds, tables, and other furniture, or anywhere dark and shaded within houses.
What Is My Risk?
All travelers are at risk in regions where dengue rages. The risk increases during the daytime, especially around sunrise and sunset. Mosquitoes that can spread dengue bite even in shady areas, even if it is overcast or you are indoors. The risk is lower for those who stay in air-conditioned hotels with superb room service or those who take part in outdoor activities during non-peak biting periods. The risk is higher for those who spend longer periods of time in zones where dengue occurs or those who stay in the house of friends and relatives.
Where Is Dengue Fever A Concern?
- Dengue fever virus is raging throughout the world but mainly happens in tropical and subtropical regions.
- It is widespread in areas of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Central and South America, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and Oceania.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 40% of the world population lives in zones where dengue viruses can be transmitted.
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