Dengue is a disease which occurs more frequently in tropical countries like India. The occurrence of dengue increases during monsoons due to higher incidences of water stagnation. However, you can suffer from dengue at any time of the year. Dengue, also called break-bone fever is a disease characterized by fever, body ache, nausea, body pain, and severe headache. A person suffers from dengue when a mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) carrying the dengue virus bites a person. Usually, this mosquito bites during the daytime, unlike malaria-causing mosquito which is believed to be biting at night.
Dengue should be suspected when you have a sudden onset of high-grade fever with a severe headache, pain behind the eyes, abdominal pain, body aches, rash, and vomiting. The fever can lasts for 5-7 days. After getting infected, symptoms can usually take 8-10 days to show up. Dengue is diagnosed by a blood test called Dengue Specific Antigen DS-1 (with or without Dengue Antibodies) and complete blood count (CBC) including platelet count.
Most patients with dengue fever may not require hospitalization and recover fully in 10-12 days. The patient should take adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids (3-4 liters) and monitor the platelet count closely ( even after the fever comes down). Use of cold sponging and paracetamol for fever is usually recommended to relieve the symptoms of dengue. Medications such as aspirin, antibiotics, ibuprofen, and other painkillers should be avoided. Do not self-medicate.
It is important to be watchful of any danger signs such as bleeding, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting and should be reported to a doctor immediately. Dengue does not spread by touch, cough or secretions. But the spread of dengue from a patient to others if a mosquito bites you after biting a person suffering from dengue.
The best way to prevent dengue is to prevent mosquitoes from entering in your immediate surroundings. Here are some of the simple, practical tips that may be of help to prevent mosquito bite all around the season.
1. Prevent Water Stagnation
Look around your house and get rid of any source of water stagnation since the mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Do not allow an excess of water to get collected in and around your house. Turn over the buckets to empty any collected/ stagnant water. Ensure that mugs and buckets are dry. Fix any leaking taps in the bathroom and kitchen so that the area remains dry and water does not get collected in containers.
Drain the water from water coolers and keep it dry. The same applies to AC trays. Remember to clean the empty flower pots. Beware of flooding the potted plants with extra water. Excessive water acts as a breeding space for the mosquitoes. After a rain shower, make sure you discard the containers that could become potential areas for breeding of the mosquitoes.
2. Use Mosquito Nets
Mosquitoes are active throughout the day, therefore with the monsoons setting in, make sure you use mosquito mesh/nets. This can prevent the mosquitoes to bite you during your sleep hours. Moreover, you should cover up and close any holes in the windows and doors from where mosquitoes might enter. Wire mesh screens can be used on windows to block out the entry of mosquitoes in your home.
3. Apply Mosquito Repellents
Use mosquito repellent creams especially for kids who go out to play. Mosquito repellent liquidators are also widely available in the market and useful for driving out mosquitoes from the house.
4. Try Natural Repellents
Apart from the mosquito repellents available in the markets, there are a few natural mosquito repellents that can help you to keep mosquitoes away. You can use oils such as lemon eucalyptus oil, neem oil, cinnamon oil, lavender oil, or thyme oil in the aroma diffusers. You may also choose to burn camphor or place a potted tulsi plant near the windows or corners of your rooms. Grow plants such as marigold, citronella, geranium, and lavender in your garden nursery. This may not only add freshness to your house but also help to ward off those mosquitoes.
5. Take Special Care Of Babies
Since babies sleep during the day, there is a high probability of babies getting bitten by carrier mosquitoes. Always use a mosquito net over a sleeping baby and ensure that it covers the stroller or crib. You can use these nets during the daytime for babies as well as elders who tend to take a nap in the afternoon. Use cotton clothes that cover up most parts of the baby’s body. Get any fever in the baby during monsoon months checked by the doctor immediately.
6. Cover Up
In case you go out during the day for a stroll or for work, make sure you wear light colored clothes that cover your extremities properly. Wear full sleeved clothes and full-length pants as much as possible so that most areas of your body are covered. In case, you have kids, take special care to ensure their bodies are covered as much as possible.
A little bit of extra precaution during the monsoons can go a long way in preventing you and your loved ones from falling ill. Stay healthy!