Dengue fever, which is also known as breakbone fever is the most common mosquito borne viral disease that has been spreading rapidly in many parts of the world in recent years. This pandemic-prone viral disease is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected female
Aedes mosquito, accompanied by mild symptoms after 3-4 days. In some cases, severe dengue fever can potentially cause intense joint pain and trigger deadly complications. It may also lead to death.
Although dengue has been spreading rapidly throughout the world, it can be commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas. According to Darvin Scott Smith, the first confirmed dengue case in the world was reported in 1779-1780 whereby the outbreak of this deadly fever took place simultaneously in Asia, North America and Africa.
However, some studies have stated that dengue originated in monkeys 800 years ago and transmitted it to humans.
The clinical picture of dengue fever became a topic of concern in the 1960s when several cases of severe dengue fever and dengue shock syndrome occurred in Southeast Asia.
Where does the Aedes mosquito breed?
Before we dive into the breeding sites of dengue mosquitoes, one should be able to identify them.
Better known as the Aedes mosquito, this insect is small. It is approximately 4 to 7 millimeters with white markings and banded legs. The ones that are carriers of dengue are of the female breed.
Female Aedes mosquitoes breeds are larger than males. While male aedes mosquitoes live on fruits, female aedes mosquitoes depend on fruit and blood. The female mouthparts are altered for blood feeding and this is vital to mature her eggs.
An Aedes mosquito needs only a tablespoon of water to lay its eggs and for the larvae to develop into an adult mosquito. This clearly shows that Aedes mosquitoes can breed anywhere as long as there is stagnant water available.
These mosquitoes choose to breed in water-filled containers such as-
- Plastic Drums
- Plant trays
- Air Conditioners trays
- Uncovered water containers that are not used regularly
- Unmaintained ponds and swimming pools.
In short, Aedes mosquitoes breed in any nook and corner of areas with stagnant water.
This is quite dangerous as these areas ‘help’ the larvae increase their life expectancy and there is a higher chance for these mosquitoes to live long enough to be the carrier of the virus and transmit it to another person.
Causes of Dengue Fever
Although dengue can be commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas, cases of dengue can be found in very high numbers in urban and semi-urban areas.
It is caused by any one out of four types of dengue viruses transmitted by mosquitoes breeding near human lodgings. When an Aedes mosquito bites a person that is already infected with a dengue virus, the virus gets transmitted to the mosquito which then acts as a carrier.
The virus is then passed on to another human being when the mosquito feeds on the blood of another person. This causes the virus to enter the bloodstream of that person which may contribute to dengue fever.
Even if the person recovers from dengue, there is a possibility of getting infected all over again and multiple times if safety precautions are not taken.
Each subsequent infection can be deadlier than the previous one. This may lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, a fatal form of the disease that can cause a patient’s health condition to suddenly deteriorate.
How to prevent dengue?
If you live in a dengue-prone area or if you are planning to visit urban areas in tropical countries, here are a few effective measures that can be taken to prevent ourselves from getting infected.
1. Use mosquito or insect repellent
Always remember to carry a mosquito repellent with you wherever you go. This repellent should be sprayed onto your skin and on your clothing to lower the risk of mosquito bites.
Mosquito repellent should not be applied or sprayed under clothing as it may cause skin irritation, rash and swelling.
2. Use insecticide spray in your home
These sprays can be sprayed into the dark corners in your home. Spray insecticide under the bed and sofa as well as behind the curtains to kill any mosquitoes that happen to fly into your house.
3. Wear long sleeves shirts and pants
Long sleeves shirts and pants are very suitable when you are carrying out an outdoor activity as it covers most of your skin. This type of clothing protects your skin from mosquito bites as it makes it much more difficult for the mosquitoes to make contact with your skin.
Also, it is advisable to wear light-coloured clothing as lighter colours are not that attractive to mosquitoes.
4. Avoid outdoor activities when possible
It is advisable to avoid outdoor activities especially in the morning and late afternoon as Aedes mosquitoes are very active during these hours.
Not only that, but these insects are also very attracted to the human scent of sweat and this is not good news for us as this encourages mosquitoes to bite us.
5. Use mosquito nets while sleeping
Insecticide-treated mosquito nets promise good protection as it prevents mosquitoes from landing on your skin.
Use mosquito nets that can be hung over your bed while sleeping.
6. Destroy their biological habitat
We all know that mosquitoes favorite breeding spots are stagnant water systems.
Always make sure to cover and clean water containers on a regular basis to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Please be sure to treat your swimming pools and drains with chlorine as mosquitoes will not breed in chlorinated water.
Last but not least, always make sure to eliminate unwanted or unused stagnant water in old tires, barrels and flower pots as places like this serve as a breeding spot for mosquitoes.
Food to eat to prevent dengue fever
There are a few types of food you can eat to prevent dengue naturally. Although not scientifically proven, it will help to aid in the improvement of your immune system and prevent dengue fever from becoming fatal.
Consume these food that are rich in essential nutrients for an immunity boost:
Citrusy fruits and vegetables contain high levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps in building strong immunity as it is rich in antioxidants and helps in the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are important to fight off diseases.
Examples of citrus food are oranges, kiwi, lemon and more.
Garlic contributes to better immunity in the body. It contains antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Garlic also contains sulfur which contributes to better immunity.
A plus point for garlic – it adds a yummy taste to food so including it to dishes is a breeze.
Turmeric is a spice that contains medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammatory and helps improve the functioning of the immune system.
Just add a teaspoon of this spice to your milk or tea to give your system a quick boost.
Ginger is a spice that boosts your immune system. You can add it to your tea for some flavour and can easily purchase some from grocery stores.
Ginger helps in treating sore treat, inflammation, nausea and other strong symptoms of dengue fever.
Broccoli is packed with vitamins and minerals. It is one of the best vegetables you can put on your plate as it is full of vitamins A, C and E as well as fiber and antioxidants.
Cook it as little as possible to keep the nutrients in the vegetable.
Spinach is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene. All these help boost immunity and increase infection-fighting abilities in our immune system.
Similar to broccoli, cook it as little as possible to retain the nutrients. However, for spinach, light cooking makes it easier to release vitamin A and for other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an antinutrient.
Yoghurt is a probiotic that will stimulate the immune system to function properly. A refreshing treat that is loaded with health benefits, yoghurt will help you fight diseases.
It is also a great source of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and boosts the body’s natural defences against diseases.
In a nutshell, dengue fever is a rapidly spreading virus that’s hit different parts of the world. It is advisable to consult a doctor when you see any signs or symptoms of dengue fever.
However, it is best that you take the proper precautions to prevent getting dengue in the first place. Apply the prevention tips we stated above to avoid getting bitten by an Aedes mosquito and boost your immunity as soon as possible.