The trick to preventing mosquito bites lies in ensuring that mosquitoes are not allowed to breed in the house. We compile a handy guide to make your house dengue-proof.
Mosquitoes are a constant scourge in warm, humid countries like ours. They are everywhere – indoors, outdoors, inside water bodies, and even lurking in the corners. Most mosquitoes are quite active from dawn to dusk, though they may bite at any time of the day.
While most mosquito bites are not a cause for concern – they cause an itchy bump on the skin that subsides after a while – the bites from Aedes mosquitoes infected with the dengue virus must be looked at quite seriously. The mosquito picks up the infection from an infected human, and passes it on to another when it bites the next person. Thus, dengue is transmitted from human to human via mosquitoes.
The symptoms of dengue
Dengue is characterised by high fever, chills and a bone crushing fatigue. Once the fever sets in, other symptoms of dengue include cold, extreme muscle and joint pain, throbbing headaches, pain while blinking or moving the eyes, vomiting and loss of appetite. When the illness progresses or is not treated on time, dengue can cause a skin rash and also bleeding from the nose and gums. In extreme cases, when dengue progresses to a very high level, it may cause an enlargement of the liver, circulatory system failure, damage to blood vessels and multi organ failure leading to death.
The illness is often misdiagnosed because the early symptoms of dengue are often mistaken for those of flu, i.e. cold, body ache and fever. Hence, these symptoms must be immediately checked by a doctor via blood tests.
How to treat dengue fever
- Often, medication and rest are the only way to treat dengue fever.
- It is important to keep hydrated during the illness, so one must consume a lot of water, warm vegetable soup, green tea or other fluids that flush out the virus toxins. Eat food that is light and easily digestible, comprising mashed rice, yoghurt, pureed vegetables, etc.
- The patient must be kept isolated from the rest of the house. Keep freshly laundered blankets on the bed, and a thermometer and water within easy reach.
- Once the fever subsides, wash the patient’s bedclothes in a separate laundry load from the rest of the household’s clothes.
Since one cannot predict if a certain mosquito carries the dengue virus, it is better to prevent any and every mosquito from biting you or your loved ones. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to taking adequate precautions against dengue.
Use a good mosquito repellent or insect killer spray around the house. Spray each room, keeping the windows closed and the fan switched on. You may open the windows after 15 minutes, by which time the spray will have killed all the mosquitoes lurking in the room.
It is a good idea to spray the house with insect killer every day during the monsoons, or when the weather is warm – mosquitoes thrive in these conditions.
Remove all stagnant water buckets, plant pots and cans where mosquitoes can lay eggs in the fresh water.
Another good precaution to take during dengue and malaria season is to wear loose fitting clothing. Mosquitoes can bite through clothing, so if your clothes are tight, they will have no difficulty biting the skin through the fibres.