Just when we thought we were rid of dengue, the virus is back in the Middle East and in about 100 countries around the world. But here’s what you can do about it.

Its first outbreak was reported in the Middle East in the 19th century, when it affected scores of people and left many dead for a lack of diagnosis.[1] It resurfaced a century later in a largely sporadic form, but this time, doctors and researchers had identified it for what it was before it became an outbreak. Then it was absent for several years – but its back again.

The threat of dengue is real. And this time, it seems to be on a worldwide campaign for dominance.

Dengue extends its vice-like grip

Today, an astonishingly high number of countries are grappling with the effects of dengue – 100 countries around the world are on the dengue watch list – but the problem has been in the making for years.[2] Researchers contend that global urbanisation, rising populations in the cities, overall lower immunity amongst people and several breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that cause dengue, and have collectively contributed to dengue becoming one of the prime killers in the world.

Caused by bites from the Aedesaegypti and Aedesalbopictus mosquitoes, dengue manifests itself in the form of fever, severe headaches and a bone-breaking ache in the joints. It is differentiated from other vector-borne diseases by the characteristic and severe joint pain it causes, though joint pain is also seen in chikungunya. However, the Aedesaegypti mosquito is the deadlier of the two that cause this disease, and it is a tough species that thrives on human blood and spreads the infection far and wide in a matter of days.[3]

Even worse, the dengue-carrying mosquitoes have become adaptive to human living conditions and changes in temperature, so much so that they have become quite invincible and are able to survive tough environmental factors, too. Dengue has now emerged as one of the prominent health concerns in the world’s cities and towns.

The dengue-carrying mosquito is also a quick breeder that can use still and stagnant water on practically any surface – from household water pots and buckets, to wet garbage and discarded tires.

Tackling dengue the smart way

There is no known vaccine for the dengue virus, and mosquito control and prevention of bites seem to be the only solutions available to us all. The virus takes about a week to actually show any symptoms, in which time, infected humans may move to other areas of the world and aid in the transmission of the disease.

It is important to remember that dengue is transmitted in the day time since the Aedesaegypti mosquito is a daytime biter. Hence, wearing loose and long sleeved clothing and layering the skin with mosquito repellent is the first step in personal dengue prevention. If living and working indoors all day, a good solution is to spray the area with insect-killing spray.

The next step is to fortify the house and workplace against a dengue infection. All water holding surfaces must be drained and no water must be left standing in sinks, water drums, flower pots or even garbage cans outside the house. Next, apply mosquito-repelling permethrin to your bedding. You can also spray your home and office with mosquito killing aerosols that zap the harmful mosquitoes in their path and create a protective barrier for your home. A good solution is also to use liquid electrical mosquito repellents.

These repellents are powerful enough to create a protective barrier between your home and dengue mosquitoes, and can be used during both the day and night. Besides these, one can use a mosquito and fly-killing spray that eliminates dangerous dengue mosquitoes in an instant. An odourless variant of the spray is better for those who are sensitive to the slightest odours.

It is also best to see the doctor if you notice dengue symptoms in yourself and your loved ones. Delayed treatment can lead to a long healing process and in the worst cases, death.