Sandy has come and gone, but Jamaica is still contending with a serious outbreak of the Dengue virus. Hurricanes can be an effective as a source reduction tool for mosquito breeding. However, with the particular experience of those in central and western parishes who got more moderate showers than wind, we may be left at greater risk after Sandy. This looming Dengue danger does bear out the saying that an ounce of prevention is truly better than a pound of cure. It is important that we understand what Dengue is, what the risks are, and that we know general precautions necessary in retarding its spread.
Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever is a mosquito-borne infection that causes flu-like illness. The Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes is the main culprit responsible for the spread of this virus.
The risk of dengue fever exists on a number of levels ranging from simple flu-like symptoms (the most common type) to fatal conditions. In ascending order of severity the four known strains of dengue fever are Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) and Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS)
Symptoms of dengue fever include pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, weakness, fever and possibly a rash. If you have any of these symptoms and notice any signs of bleeding or severe abdominal pain, worsening weakness, difficulty in breathing or fainting and pale, cold or clammy skin, seek emergency care at the nearest hospital.
Persons with symptoms of dengue fever should not take aspirin nor any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. (taken from the Ministry of Health website).
Minimizing the Risk
Know the Typical Sources
Flower pots, vases, tanks, drums, discarded cans, buckets, water troughs, lids of covered water containers, garbage around the home and workplace, abandoned tyres, and anything else that attracts and retains water.
Do periodic (weekly) scouting of your property
Dispose of garbage properly
Around the house and office areas should be de-bushed
Parasitic plants that store water should be stripped from all trees around the home and work areas.
If a storage container is infested with larvae pour a moderate measure of domestic cooking oil in the container to cover the water surface. This will cause the larvae to be suffocated. You may otherwise seek the assistance from the Ministry of Health to get other treatments for your stored water.
Where possible change or throw out the water stored in containers.
Close doors and windows when mosquitos are mobile mode (sunset and sunrise or around 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.)
As far as is safe for your household, open doors and windows when fogging (by the Ministry of Health) is taking place. The sprayer that the operators use is engine operated and carries a distinct sound, be alert and and open the doors and windows. The fog may be harmful to persons with an Asthmatic condition or young babies. Take due precautions there.
Wear light coloured clothing, especially at nights.
An electric fan can reduce mosquito trafficking measurably
Use a mosquito repellent as advised by a health practitioner for maximum effect on the mosquitos, while result in minimal effect on you.
Install mesh protection on doors and windows where necessary and possible.
Use a mesh over your bed
The internet is abundant with information about this subject. So read widely. Bear in mind also, if there are no reported cases in your area, be aware that persons migrate constantly. Hence, no one anywhere is safe; take precautions and be safe.