The WHO on Monday warned that the Kathmandu Valley might be in for a possible dengue outbreak. According to news published in the Post, in the fiscal year 2018-2019, more than 3,425 people had been infected with the dengue virus—the highest number of infections in 15 years.
The mosquito-borne viral disease is transmitted by the female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The same mosquitoes also transmit the chikungunya virus, yellow fever, and Zika virus, according to the WHO.
With the lurking threat of the possibility of the disease’s outbreak in the valley, it’s important to understand how the disease can spread, even more, to recognise the symptoms to curb the disease in its early phase. While there is no specific treatment for the illness, here are some ways that can help you keep yourself and your family alert and safe.
How does dengue spread?
Speaking to the Post about the ‘dengue outbreak’ Dr Sher Bahadur Pun from Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Hospital said, “Mosquitoes, which spread dengue, breed in water. And sources of water, preserved or open, that is not properly maintained is one of the primary reasons for the outbreak.”
Due to an acute drinking water crisis, people in the Valley collect water in various types of containers and keep until they are used. Uncovered water tanks and discarded plastic cups and bottles could become a breeding ground for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
The dengue mosquitoes can lay their eggs in water-filled containers inside the house and surrounding areas of dwellings. These mosquitoes are daytime biters that are found both inside and outside homes.
Pun informs that a person infected and suffering from dengue fever can infect other mosquitoes. However, dengue fever isn’t communicable and cannot spread from person to person.
According to the WHO, the symptoms of dengue include severe muscle and joint pain, soreness in eyes, headache, constant itching and rashes. The symptoms usually last for two to seven days, following four to 10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
In severe cases, victims can also suffer from organ damage, severe bleeding, dehydration and even death. According to Pun, if people diagnosed with dengue are not treated on time, they can suffer from ‘dengue haemorrhagic fever’, whose symptoms include severe abdominal pain, vomiting blood, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, and feeling fatigued.
“If diagnosed early, treatments can cure the patient; however, if it crosses the warning signs, the disease may not be preventable,” said Pun.
Pun recommends that patients should seek medical help on time, rest and drink plenty of fluids. As the monsoon season is at its peak, people need to keep in mind cleanliness and personal hygiene said Pun. “Hygiene is the epitome reason for such viral epidemics and avoid mosquito prone areas.”
He informs that there needs to be proper solid waste disposal and improved covered water storage practices in every household.
Apart from these measures, Pun recommends the mass to be careful about choosing the right clothing that minimises skin exposure during daylight.
“Use of generous mosquito repellents, keeping the refrigerator and toilets clean, and keep the house dry during this season can help cut down the risk of dengue,” said Pun.