Dengue is an acute viral infection that is caused by any of the four dengue viruses: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. These viruses are spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, mainly female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Dengue is common in tropical countries like the Philippines. Although it is now considered as a year-round disease by the Department of Health (DOH), the number of cases and risk of transmission usually peak during ––and immediately following– the rainy season, which typically occurs between May to November.
Most people infected with dengue are asymptomatic or only experience mild symptoms. However, in some cases, it can progress to severe dengue (also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever) which can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Severe dengue is a medical emergency and can lead to internal bleeding, shock, and even death.
There is no specific treatment for dengue, but it can be managed and resolved with early detection and access to medical care. While treatment is available, prevention is still the key to fighting dengue.
Tips to Prevent Dengue
Here are some tips on how to prevent dengue and prevent dengue-related deaths based on the 4-S Strategy of the DOH.
1. Search and destroy mosquito-breeding sites
Female mosquitoes can lay eggs in any space or container that holds clear and stagnant water. It only takes a very small amount of water to attract a female mosquito that even a bottle cap or old tire with accumulated water will make a great breeding site.
When female mosquitoes find an ideal breeding site, they can lay up to 100 eggs which can develop into an adult, flying mosquitoes in just 7-10 days.
Do not allow dengue-causing mosquitoes to multiply by doing the following:
- Throw away, turn over, empty, or store under a roof any container or old object that can hold water (ex: old tires, old basins).
- Always cover containers used for water storage (buckets, drums).
- Always check for any larvae or pupae (“kiti-kiti”) in stored water.
- Change water in flower vases at least once a week.
- Remove any water from dishes under potted plants & flowerpots.
- Clean drains and gutters regularly.
2. Secure self-protection measures
Remember that the dengue virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes; hence, aside from controlling the population of mosquitoes, you must also secure measures to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes. Below are some tips to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites.
- Wear loose but protective clothing when mosquitoes are most active or when going to a dengue-prone area.
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin (products containing 50% DEET are most effective, but lower concentrations should be used in children).
- Install mosquito screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitos from entering the house
3. Seek early consultation
Seek early consultation if you experience high-grade fever accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Eye pain, typically behind the eyes
- Muscle, joint, or bone pain
Many of the initial symptoms of dengue are similar to flu and even COVID-19; hence, seeking early consultation can help confirm dengue diagnosis. Early diagnosis helps you get prompt and appropriate medical care to prevent life-threatening complications.
In addition, if you are infected with dengue, mosquitos that bite you can go on to bite and infect other people. Seeking consultation and getting a confirmed diagnosis can help you practice self-protection measures early on before you can indirectly infect others.
4. Say yes to fogging
Fogging kills and repels mosquitoes. Support fogging especially in hotspot areas where there is an increase in cases for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak.