Dengue—A Growing Menace
“The Health Services of Morelos . . . , in coordination with the Board of Health of the Emiliano Zapata Town Council, grant the present precertificate to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . for [the Witnesses’] teamwork in achieving clean spaces free of breeding grounds for dengue-bearing mosquitoes.”
AUTHORITIES in Mexico have good reason to be concerned about disease-bearing mosquitoes. The pesky little insects can transmit a dangerous virus that causes dengue, a potentially life-threatening disease that afflicted over 57,000 people in Mexico in 2010. Mexico is just one of more than 100 countries where dengue is now endemic. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) currently estimates that there may be 50 million cases of dengue worldwide every year and that about two fifths of the world’s population are at risk of contracting the disease. Accordingly, health authorities have initiated programs to eradicate the white-spotted Aedes aegypti mosquito, one of the insects that transmits the dengue virus.*
Dengue is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical climates, especially during the rainy season and after a natural disaster such as a hurricane or flooding. This is because the female Aedes mosquito lays its eggs wherever it can find standing water.* Since people throughout Latin America and the Caribbean collect and store household water in concrete tanks, health experts urge them to keep their tanks covered. This prevents the tanks from becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes. People also restrict the spread of these mosquitoes when they keep their yard clean of old tires, cans, flowerpots, plastic containers—anything that might hold stagnant water.
Identifying and Coping With Dengue
Dengue is commonly misdiagnosed because of its flulike symptoms. But according to WHO, you should suspect dengue whenever a fever is accompanied by skin rashes, pain behind the eyes, and pain in the muscles as well as severe joint pains, which is the reason why it is called breakbone fever. The fever lasts from five to seven days.
Doctors do not yet have a cure for dengue, but in most cases it can be treated at home with rest and plenty of fluids. Patients, however, need to be closely monitored in case dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome develops. These potentially deadly complications can occur after the initial fever subsides and the patient appears to be recovering. What are some of the symptoms of these more serious conditions? Severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, nosebleeds and bleeding gums, black stools, and reddish-purple blisters under the skin. Additionally, symptoms of dengue shock syndrome may include restlessness, excessive thirst, pale and cold skin, and very low blood pressure.
Sadly, antibiotics are ineffective in treating dengue because it is a viral infection and not bacterial. Also, a patient is wise to avoid anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as they can increase the risk of bleeding. There are four strains of dengue virus, and it is possible to get dengue more than once.
If you contract dengue, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Also, remain under a mosquito net as much as possible to prevent mosquitoes from biting you and transmitting the disease to others.
How can you limit exposure to mosquitoes in the first place? Wear long sleeves, long pants or long dresses, and use mosquito repellents. Although mosquitoes can bite at any time of the day, they are most active about two hours after sunrise and before sunset. Also, sleeping under a mosquito net that has been covered with insect repellent can offer you protection.
Time will tell whether vaccines can provide any relief from dengue. Ultimately, though, God’s Kingdom will eradicate all ailments, including this fever. Indeed, the time will come when God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
In some lands, other mosquitoes, such as the Aedes albopictus, may also carry the dengue virus.
Aedes mosquitoes usually travel no more than a few hundred yards from where they hatch.
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Check for Breeding Sites
1. Abandoned tires
2. Rain gutters
4. Plastic containers
5. Discarded cans and barrels
Limit Exposure to Mosquito Bites
a. Wear long sleeves, long pants, or long dresses. Use mosquito repellent
b. Sleep under a mosquito net
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Source: Courtesy Marcos Teixeira de Freitas