11 tips to deal with dengue before it strikes
Dengue cases are on the rise! How safe is your environment?
The capital encountered the first suspected case of dengue death this season on Wednesday. A 10-year-old girl died of the deadly disease at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The child, a resident of south Delhi, had reportedly been suffering from high fever for a whole week, before being diagnosed with dengue hemorrhagic fever. It's a specific syndrome that tends to affect children or the elderly.
A matter of concern is that as many as 40 cases of dengue have been reported in Delhi till July 25 this year, whereas only 16 such cases had been reported in the same time span last year.
Symptoms of dengue fever
Dengue fever is caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by 'Ades' mosquitoes. According to Dr Anurag Saxena, general physician, Primus Hospital, Delhi, dengue in infants and toddlers generally starts with the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Mild rashes on the skin
- High temperature
In older kids and adults, the symptoms of dengue include:
- High fever
- Eye and joint aches
- Backaches and headaches
- Loss of appetite
- Skin rash, which appears three to four days after the onset of fever
- Bleeding nose and gums
- Susceptible to easy bruising
Dengue makes a person pale and weak, and this weakness may continue for some time after the illness as well.
Continue reading to know how you can prevent dengue
Diagnosing and treating dengue
If suspected, doctors can diagnose a dengue infection with a blood test to check for the virus or antibodies to it. There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection. Mild cases can be treated by giving lots of fluids to prevent dehydration and getting plenty of rest.
How to prevent dengue from getting to your child
"There is no vaccine to treat dengue hence prevention is the only key to safeguard your children," informs Dr Saxena. To minimise the chances of being bitten by an infected mosquito, specially during the monsoons, Dr Saxena suggests that we exercise the following precautions:
- Keep your house clean, dry and hygienic
- Dress your child in long sleeved tops and full-length trousers for minimal skin exposure
- Make your child wear light-coloured clothes (dark colours attract mosquitoes)
- Use a mosquito net while you sleep
- Throw away wet garbage such as vegetable stalks, fruits peels etc., regularly
- Clean out any flower pots and throw out dead plants
In addition to these we can also:
- Apply a mosquito repellent, but not on babies' delicate skin
- Clean out any surfaces that have a possibility of collecting stagnant water. There could be mosquitos breeding in your indoor bamboo plants, the area under the air-conditioning vents, the dog's water bowl or even that discarded tyre outside the house
- Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes
- Experiment with placing mosquito repellent plants around the house. However, one must ensure that the water drains out well
- Limit the amount of time children spent outside during the day, especially in the hours around dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
Some misconceptions about dengue
The symptoms of dengue can often be confused with any other viral infection or flu. Parents must not ignore signs of a possible infection. "It is essential to watch out for the signs of dengue, and to get a confirmation about the symptoms," says Dr Saxena. But there are some misconceptions parents must ignore if they want to know how to prevent dengue. Read on:
- Do not believe in quick-fix dengue 'cures' received as forwards via emails and Whatsapp messages not validated by a doctor
- Refrain from self-medication. Some pain relievers with aspirin or ibuprofen should be avoided, as they can make bleeding more likely. Antibiotics have no effect on a dengue infection
- Consumption of papaya leaves and fruits like dragon fruit and kiwi are highly advocated during the dengue season. While there is no harm in consuming them, there are conflicting reports regarding their therapeutic effects on dengue fever
- The use of mosquito repellent devices, sprays do not eliminate mosquito larvae breeding in stagnant waters.
- If your child has been affected by dengue once, it does not mean he is immune to the disease for life. According to a leading daily, a 4-year-old lost her life after a second encounter of the disease, which usually proves to be more fatal
If you have any comments on how to prevent dengue? Share them in the comments below.