How to Dengueproof Your Home
Dengue fever is a viral illness. When the tiger mosquito (it has striped legs) bites an infected person, it breeds the virus - this takes several days - and then spreads it to other victims.
While people become more aware of dengue during the rainy season (when mosquitoes breed), doctors say it's endemic and can happen all year.
Symptoms of dengue
High-grade fever for three to five days. The fever is usually continuously high, but can sometimes be bi-phasic (high for the first three days, vanishing on the fourth day, recurring on the fifth day onwards).
Pain around or behind the eyes. This is called retro-orbital pain.
Nausea and/or vomiting
Muscle aches and pains. Also known as "break bone disease," since patients feel like their bones are being crushed. Similar to how you feel when you have the flu, but worse.
Rashes. Red spots in the lower extremities or measles-like red rashes all over the body. Both spots and rashes are flat and can be itchy.
How dangerous is dengue?
There are two types of dengue fever: classic dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic. Classic dengue exhibits symptoms but dengue hemorrhagic also includes a big decrease in platelet count, which can result in bleeding. Severe cases involve damage to the brain from encephalitis, the heart (carditis), liver (hepatitis) and, in rare instances, the kidney (nephritis). The worst-case scenario is when a person does not get treatment early enough, resulting in bleeding and then, death.
But the danger of dengue is that it can be deceptive. Ninety percent of the time, the platelet count will go down when the fever has subsided, just when you think the danger's passed. That's why doctors advise you to stay in the hospital to monitor your platelet count, even if your fever has gone down or is no longer there.
Dengue-proof your home
The tiger mosquito thrives in tropical weather. They bite in the day, and breed in stagnant fresh water and rain water. Since there is no dengue vaccine, the best protection is to keep out its disease carrier.
Remove stagnant water. Water should never stand for more than three days, the time it takes for mosquitoes to breed, hatch and grow into an adult mosquito - and only adult mosquitoes become carriers of the virus.
Beware "peak hours." Keep your kids indoors when the mosquitoes are most active. This occurs during early morning (from 4AM to 11AM) and late afternoon (from 4PM to 6PM).
Check all your screens. Repair or replace those with holes.
Use mosquito nets. You can buy mosquito net covering at any department stores that are especially built for cribs and strollers.
Cover up. Protective clothing is a must if you think you will be in places where you and your family will be at risk. Wear pants, long sleeves, and socks. Since Asian tiger mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors and the smell of sweat, wear light shades and change shirts frequently.
Use repellants. There are various mosquito repellants in the market today.
Creams. Use a child-safe repellant (strong formulas can irritate sensitive skin). Doctors say that you can apply a product containing up to 30% DEET on any child over two months of age. The amount of DEET determines how long the repellant works, but the safest bet is to get a product with 10 to 25% DEET and reapply. Anything beyond 50% doesn't give significantly higher protection. Do not let children apply it themselves, and be sure everyone washes their hands well so that they do not get anything in their eyes or mouth. Always follow directions carefully. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
Light traps. Insect light traps or sound devices do little to reduce the number of biting mosquitoes in an area.
Sprays. Insect sprays can kill mosquitoes and their eggs. Spray into the drains, and pay attention to the bathroom, kitchen, and garage (where water is likely to collect). Many moms observe that sprays designed for mosquitoes have better effect. Look for those with DEET and ethyl hexanedial. Since both can irritate small children, spray when they're not home, and cover their toys and clothes.
Smoke. Many people burn leaves in the yard. This has no long-term effect, since the insects will return once the smoke dissipates.
If the immune system is strong, it can fight against viruses and shorten the period of illness. Make sure everyone gets enough sleep, eats healthy, and takes multi-vitamins.