, New DelhiZarafshan Shiraz
Health departments in India and Bangladesh have swung into action after dengue cases surge amidst heavy rainfall this monsoon, with over 7,000 dengue cases reported in Karnataka, nearly 3,475 dengue cases in Punjab, Ambala’s dengue cases climbing to 173, Lucknow crossing the 300-mark, two notified dengue deaths in Navi Mumbai and suspected dengue cases pegged at 126, another suspected dengue death in Ghaziabad and an uptick in dengue cases in Delhi where doctors warn that numbers may increase. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization reported that neighbouring country, Bangladesh, is facing its worst-ever dengue outbreak with the climate crisis being cited as a key factor in the increased transmission of these mosquito-borne diseases.
This viral infection is caused by the dengue virus (DENV) which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes and while many DENV infections are asymptomatic or produce only mild illness, high fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash, DENV can occasionally cause more severe cases and even death. Hence, health experts insist that early detection and access to proper medical care greatly lower fatality rates of severe dengue.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Divya Singh, Senior Surgeon at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Director at Maaiya Social Change Front Foundation, asserted that protection against dengue is crucial, especially in Delhi where cases are rising. She suggested some top tips to help you prevent dengue –
- Eliminate breeding sites: The Aedes mosquitoes that transmit dengue breed in stagnant water. Regularly check and eliminate any standing water around your home, such as in flower pots, discarded containers, and gutters. Do not allow water to stagnate in or around the household.
- Regular screening of the house – Regular screenings by local authorities, building associations and on your own is a must to remain vigilant and present any breeding spots from being missed out.
- Use mosquito nets and screens: Sleep under mosquito nets, especially during daytime when Aedes mosquitoes are most active. Use window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
- Wear protective clothing: When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes to minimize exposure to mosquitoes. Light-colored clothing can also help as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.
- Use mosquito repellents: Apply mosquito repellents on exposed skin and clothing. Look for products containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the instructions on the label.
- Keep your environment clean: Maintain good hygiene and cleanliness in and around your home. Trim bushes and shrubs, and keep grass short to reduce mosquito resting areas.
- Keep the house and surrounding areas airy and well lit: Mosquitoes usually breed in dark places. Dimly lit areas and neglected spots harbour mosquitoes and may be overseen during sanitation checks which causes pooling of water and a fertile ground for larvae to grow.
- Avoid peak mosquito activity: Aedes mosquitoes are most active during early morning and late afternoon. If possible, stay indoors during these times.
- Avoid smells that attract mosquitoes: Growing lemongrass, eucalyptus and peppermint around the house will aid in fending off mosquitoes.
- Promote community action: Work together with your neighbors to eliminate breeding sites in your community. Mosquitoes can travel short distances, so collective efforts are important.
- Support vector control measures: Cooperate with local health authorities and their efforts to control mosquito populations through fogging, spraying, and larvicidal treatments.
- Stay informed: Stay updated on dengue-related information from local health authorities and government agencies. Follow their recommendations for prevention and control.
- Seek medical attention: If you experience symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, rash, or bleeding, seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and proper medical care are essential for managing dengue.
Emphasising the importance of collective efforts, the health expert urged everyone to actively engage in dengue prevention by adopting these measures and inspiring others within the community. Through united action, we can significantly diminish the spread of dengue and safeguard the well-being of our neighbourhoods.