Here’s what you need to do to beat back swarms of the day-biting aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread dengue .
1. Cover up
You’re at risk when you step out as the mosquito bites during the day. In 2015, two in three people infected were children and office-goers. Wear loose clothes that cover your arms and legs when you step out. Use mosquito repellent sprays, creams, coils, mats or liquids to drive away mosquitoes. Use screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out.
2. Spot the symptoms
The symptoms show up in five to six days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include high fever (<103 degrees Fahrenheit), severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, rashes and bleeding from the gums, nose or ears.
3. Get diagnosed
If you suspect you have dengue, you need to get two tests done. The NS1 Elisa-based antigen test is the confirmatory test done after three days of developing fever with symptoms of body ache, headache or nausea. Delhi government has capped the price of dengue tests at Rs 600 for NS1 Elisa-based antigen test and Elisa MAC tests, and Rs 50 for platelet count.
4. Treat dengue with paracetamol
Dengue has no cure and the treatment is symptomatic. Dengue fever lasts for seven to 10 days. Most people recover by taking paracetamol for fever and pain and fluids -- water, juice, soups etc -- to prevent dehydration. Less than 5% people with dengue need hospitalisation, and less than 1% need platelet transfusion.
5. Do not take aspirin for pain
Do not take blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and diclofenac that aggravate bleeding associated with dengue to treat fever and pain. Delhi government has restricted the sale of these drugs and they will be available only on prescription till the end of October.
6. Track your platelets
Platelets help the blood clot and stop bleeding. Very low levels – the normal range is between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets per microlitre of blood – lead to internal bleeding and shock, which results in death from multi-organ failure.
Get a count done once in two days if your platelets fall under 150,000, and daily if they fall below 100,000. Test twice daily if the count goes below 60,000 or if the rate of drop is 50% or more within 24 hours.
7. Recognise a medical emergency
You need emergency hospital admission if your platelets fall below 30,000; there is bleeding from the gums, nose, ears or blood in the stool or urine; there is severe abdominal pain; persistent vomiting; breathing difficulty and/or rash or red spots on the abdomen and arms. Platelet transfusion may be needed if platelets fall below 10,000 platelets per microlitre of blood.
8. Dengue vaccine
Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine against all four dengue strains available globally, but it is not yet marketed in India .
9. Keep your neighbourhood clean
Aedes aegypti breeds around human habitat in fresh water that collects in vases, birdbaths, old tyres, containers, potholes etc. Prevent mosquito breeding by keeping your home and surroundings dry and clean.
10. Download the government’s free dengue app to get tips and updates.