A rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease is threatening to infect 2.5 billion people or 40% of the world’s population (both children and adults), including those living in the Philippines. This disease is not unheard of but has been infecting millions of people over the past 50 years. This disease is called dengue.
Dengue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a fast emerging pandemic-prone viral disease in many parts of the world. Over the last five decades, the incidence of dengue globally has increased 30 fold. WHO also estimates 50 to 100 million people will be infected with the virus each year in over 100 endemic countries, the Philippines included.
According to the DOH, a total of 117,658 dengue cases in the country were reported from January 1 to September 7, 2013.
A person infected by dengue will experience severe flu-like symptoms. These symptoms will usually last for two days to one week. Leading health care provider PhilCare provides the following warning signs when suspecting the dengue virus:
- A very high fever (40°C/ 104°F)
- Severe headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Nausea, Vomiting
- Swollen glands
- Muscle and joint pains
The dengue virus may be potentially deadly if it leads to severe dengue or also called dengue hemorrhagic fever.
In the 1950s, a dengue epidemic in the Philippines and Thailand led to the discovery of the dengue hemorrhagic fever, which leads to serious complications and death. This complication still occurs in Asia and Latin America and accounts for significant cases of hospitalization and deaths among children and adults in the said regions.
PhilCare says apart from a drop in temperature, these are the other warning signs of severe dengue which occur 3-7 days after the first symptoms appear:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Rapid breathing
- Bleeding gums
- Blood in vomit
- Fatigue, restlessness
There is no specific cure for dengue. If inflicted with the dengue virus, one should immediately consult a doctor. It is also advised to take plenty of rest, fluids and paracetamol to bring down the fever and relieve joint pains. Dengue however is preventable by avoiding mosquito bites. The Center of Disease Control says the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to eliminate the places where mosquitoes lay eggs. Here are some tips on how to eliminate mosquitoes:
- Cover water drums and water pails at all times. These serve as breeding areas for mosquitoes.
- Regularly replace water in flower vases.
- Regularly clean all water containers
- Clean gutters of leaves and debris. They too serve as breeding areas.
- Dispose all unusable tin cans, jars, bottles, and other items that can collect and hold water.