India – the Dengue Capital of the World

Dengue Beware of that mosquito you might spot around you during the day! For, you may catch the Dengue Fever if you don’t take the due precautions.

India’s official data reports about 20,000 cases annually but one study estimated this number to be about 300X off – with the actual number of hospitalizations being around 58,00,000!

Dengue is endemic in India since 1940’s. 80% of people escape with just fatigue and light fever – the 20% experience serious symptoms. Only 1% develop life-threatening symptoms.

Current data is that from Delhi: ~1900 cases with 13 deaths as of Sep 16th, 2015. And the city has already run out of hospital-beds!

Dengue Fever

The impact can range from mild flu to hemorrhagic fever. Depends on your immunity.

Aedes aegypti is a small dark mosquito with white stripes on its legs and body – so it’s called as the Tiger Mosquito!

the culprit for dengue
Source: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

The mosquito likes to hide in cool places – like closets or under the bed – and bites during the day or well-lit places in the night. Loves to bite at ankles and elbows.

Signs to watch out for

Normal symptoms: headache, fever, rash, pain behind the eyes, in muscles & joints.

No specific medicine. If mild then take rest, plenty of fluids and simple home-cooked food. Avoid taking Aspirin & Brufen. Paracetamol is safer.

Gets serious with pain in abdomen, vomiting, bleeding or difficulty in breathing – rush to a Doctor. A drop in body temperature may look like recovery from fever but don’t get complacent – keep a constant watch for any worsening of the situation.

Prevention & Control

Prevention measures include mosquito-control – general cleanliness and no stagnant water around in vases, broken bottles, coconut-shells, any container you can think of! Cover your drinking water. Use mosquito repellents, wear clothes that cover your body. Use bed-net for children sleeping during the daytime.

A tip for plant-lovers: observe a weekly dry-day when you drain all the water from the water-plants and replace it with fresh water. Weekly dry-day breaks the breeding cycle of the mosquito.

Mustard oil is a natural repellent to use on exposed body parts. But in the long run, there is no substitute for building your immunity through balanced-diet, exercise, and adequate sleep!

The author is Ex-Epidemiologist, WHO