International health authorities are reminding the public on the preventive and control measures that should be taken to prevent the spread of dengue infection most especially amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In the most recent bulletin from the WHO for the Western Pacific Region dated 16 July 2020, there are already 52,601 recorded cases of dengue in the Philippines for the year.
Following are the pertinent health facts gathered from the Department of Health (DOH), United States Center for Disease Control (US CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to serve as guide in dealing with this disease.
Basic Steps to Prevent Dengue
- The best way to prevent dengue is to protect oneself from mosquito bites.
- To avoid infecting other people, patients with dengue should avoid getting further mosquito bites during the first week of illness as the virus may be circulating in the blood during this time.
Control of Transmission
Important measures to control or prevent the transmission of dengue virus by combatting the mosquito vectors through:
- Stopping mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water source by eliminating mosquito breeding sites and preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats through various environmental cleanliness measures
- Proper disposal of solid waste and removing habitats that can hold water
- Covering, emptying and cleaning of domestic water storage containers such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
- Use appropriate insecticides to water storage outdoor containers and stagnant water sites.
Protecting Oneself from Infection
- Primary mosquito vectors bite throughout the day; use personal household protection measures, such as window screens, repellents, insecticide treated materials, coils and vaporizers both inside and outside of the home (e.g. at work or school)
- Wear long or large clothes such as long-sleeved shirts or long pants to minimize skin exposure to mosquitoes. Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs
- Use protective covers at home when sleeping such as mosquito nets. The strollers and baby carriers must be covered with mosquito netting as well.
- When using insect repellent on children, always follow label instructions. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-methane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
- Participate in health education and awareness campaigns in the community to mitigate the risks of mosquito-borne diseases
- Engage with the rest of the community to improve participation and mobilization for sustained vector control
- Health authorities may also employ emergency vector control measures such as applying insecticides as space spraying during outbreaks
Controlling the spread of dengue in the community is a multi-system approach. It isn’t limited to just protecting oneself from the bite of a mosquito, rather it takes a concerted effort from different stakeholders to maintain the environment free from dengue-carrying mosquitoes. Most importantly, this approach is enhanced by the prompt recognition of symptoms and the immediate action to seek medical attention.