The best method of protection is to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce the mosquito population. When in a high-risk area, you should:
- use mosquito repellent indoors and outdoors
- wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks
- use air conditioning instead of opening windows
- ensure that window and door screens are secure
- use mosquito nets if sleeping areas are not screened
Reducing the mosquito population involves getting rid of mosquito breeding areas and these include any place that still water can collect, such as:
- pet dishes
- empty planters
- flower pots
- any empty vessel
These areas should be checked, emptied, or changed regularly.
Myth 1: I will get dengue after being bitten by any mosquito
The dengue virus is transmitted only by female Aedes mosquitos. Transmission of the virus happens only after it has bitten an infected human. Aedes mosquitoes are intermittent biters and prefer to bite more than one person during their feeding period, and they are capable of biting anyone throughout the day.
Myth 2: Dengue is harmless
Usually, some people get mild cases which do not exhibit any severe symptoms. Most people get fever, rash, muscle/joint ache, headache, nausea and/or diarrhea.
Although less common, there are those who develop severe dengue fever with symptoms which can include internal bleeding, breathing difficulty, liver failure, confusion and drop in blood pressure. Without timely medical intervention, this can be life-threatening.
Myth 3: Papaya leaf juice can cure dengue
Papaya leaf juice has been shown to induce a rapid rise in platelet count but it is not scientifically proven to cure dengue. The management of dengue is hydration, close monitoring and support during the critical phase of the illness.
Myth 4: Only young children and the elderly are at risk
Everyone, regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic background, are at risk of getting dengue. In Malaysia, the disease is most common in adolescents and young adults (between age 15 and 31 years). It potentially affects those with pre-existing conditions such as obesity, diabetes or immune system problems more severely.
Myth 5: I am not at risk because my house is clean
As long as there are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, Aedes mosquitoes can breed, and even live with you. They can also fly in from your neighbour’s house as the Aedes mosquito’s flight range is up to 400 metres.
A person infected with dengue, especially when asymptomatic (showing no symptoms), becomes a “mobile transmitter” and can infect others without knowing. In addition, people are not confined to their homes at all times. They work, go to school and conduct outdoor activities, so you’re continually at risk for exposure.
It's important to remember that prevention is key to fighting this disease. Drink lots of water and get lots of rest should you start feeling unwell. Always check with your healthcare providers or doctors before consuming any traditional remedies or engaging in any form of alternative medication.