At PlumbingSupply.com®, we care about the health of our employees, our customers, and our nation. The prevalent topic for this year’s World Health Day is something many Americans may not have heard of, but is definitely cause for concern. Dengue fever and severe dengue are similar mosquito-borne infections that originated in tropical and sub-tropical regions, yet have spread in recent years to milder climates. Most of us have probably heard about malaria and West Nile disease, both of which can be extremely dangerous for young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems, and dengue is a similar type of disease that can sometimes prove fatal to these same groups of people. The World Health Organization currently estimates that over 40% of the world’s population are at risk from dengue.
However, knowledge is power when it comes to dengue. Early detection of the illness can be critical to receiving proper medical care. Dengue fever should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied by two of the following symptoms – severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle or joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, or a rash. As most parents know, young children should receive medical attention for a high fever or any of these symptoms, regardless of whether dengue fever is suspected or not.
Severe dengue is a potentially deadly complication of dengue fever, and typically occurs about 3-7 days after the symptoms mentioned above appear. The infected person may experience a decrease in their fever, accompanied by severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness, or blood in their vomit. Medical care must be sought right away to help avoid further complications and the risk of death.
Currently, there is no vaccine to protect against dengue, but the situation is far from hopeless. There are a number of things you can do to help prevent the spread of dengue – and to help your family avoid getting bit by infected mosquitos. The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend:
- Placing screens over open windows and doors when you’re indoors and using appropriate mosquito repellents like smoke coils, citronella candles, etc. when you’re outside
- Avoiding outdoor activity during dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most prevalent
- Wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants instead of shorts, and using DEET or picaridin based repellents on exposed skin and clothing (apply repellents sparingly on exposed skin, especially on children)
- Covering, emptying, and cleaning any water storage containers or areas where standing water can collect on a weekly basis – this includes areas both indoors and outdoors such as bird baths, pet or animal water dishes, rain barrels, flower planters, vases with fresh flowers, rain gutters, children’s wading pools, etc.
- Sleeping under a mosquito bed net, as mosquitos are very active at night
Mosquitos carry many diseases, of which dengue is only one. Generally speaking, taking steps to avoid or repel mosquitos and to eliminate their breeding habitats (standing water), will always be healthful for you, your family, and your neighbors.