The Department of Health has pronounced June as Dengue Awareness Month, and now more than ever, Filipinos are being more careful because of how widespread it is. In fact, according to the most recent report by the World Health Organization, 2015 was marked with large dengue outbreaks worldwide. In the Philippines alone, there were over 169,000 reported cases of dengue, a 59.5 percent increase from the previous year.
Dengue is a viral infection spread mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito mostly in tropical places like the Philippines. In Europe and North America, a secondary dengue vector has been identified as the Aedes albopictus, which is said to be highly adaptive and able to survive cooler regions. In either case, one bite can potentially lead to illness or even death.
In the late 2015 to early 2016, a dengue vaccine—Dengvaxia (CYT-TDV) by Sanofi Pasteur—was registered to be used in patients 9 to 45 years old living in endemic areas, and there are currently other vaccines under development. However, these are merely preventive measures as there is still no specific treatment for dengue.
While the government does promote anti-dengue programs like fumigations, community cleanup projects, and free immunizations in public schools, you can always go the extra mile by practicing a few more safety measures in your own house.
Water-related preventive measures
Mosquitos thrive in wet environments and are especially attracted to stagnant water. You can keep them from turning any exposed amount of water into their next breeding ground by:
1. Covering the containers you use for storing water, such as buckets or barrels
2. Emptying pails, flower pots, and other container-like objects outside the house, or turning them upside down so they won’t collect water when it rains
3. Applying insecticides to areas where water containers are usually kept
4. Cleaning out water receptacles in home appliances like water dispensers and refrigerators
5. Sweeping puddles on uneven pavement to get the area to dry faster
6. Clearing flower vases or pet’s dishes of water regularly
7. Regularly cleaning swimming pools and man-made habitats like fish ponds and aquariums
8. Removing freshly laundered clothes from the clothesline as soon as they’re dry so mosquitos won’t use them as hiding places
An uncovered container is an easy breeding ground for mosquitoes. (Photo via Shutterstock)
It’s hard to keep up with mosquitos when they’re buzzing around, but there are some things you can do to keep them at bay, such as:
1. Installing screen covers on your windows and front and back doors
2. Wearing protective clothing (pants, long-sleeved shirts, etc.) when you’re outside
3. Turning on the electric fan to prevent mosquitoes from settling in the same area
4. Applying anti-mosquito lotions or spritzes on any exposed part of your body
5. Spraying all parts of your home with mosquito repellent whenever your family’s not home, or lighting mosquito coils or katol in places mosquitos frequent
6. Investing in items such as bug zappers and sturdy mosquito netting or kulambo for additional protection
7. Properly discarding items such as water bottles, cans, and other solid wastes that collect water
8. Displaying insect-repelling plants such as citronella, eucalyptus, and lavender
Sleeping under a mosquito net or "kulambo" will keep mosquitos at bay when you're at your most vulnerable. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Prevention is your best defense against dengue, so you don’t have to live in fear of it. Just remember to follow these measures regularly to keep your home mosquito-free.
All photos via Shutterstock