Why you should take dengue seriously

Dengue, Health, Healthful
Photography by Ravi Kant
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Wolbachia suppression strategy

While the number of cases is reaching record numbers, the future of this endemic is not all that bleak. Since 2016, Singapore has been paving the way with its use of the Wolbachia mosquitos. This suppression strategy reduces the dengue mosquito population by mating male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti (Wolbachia-Aedes) mosquitoes with females not carrying Wolbachia, their resulting eggs do not hatch. Eventually, releasing male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes to urban areas will reduce the number of Aedes aegypti. In addition to reducing the risk of dengue, this method also reduces the risk of Zika and Chikungunya, which are both Aedes aegypti-borne diseases. Aedes aegypti mosquito populations have been reduced by up to 98% at 4 study sites in Singapore. Comparing the core areas of the study sites with and without releases, the core areas saw up to 88% fewer dengue cases.

Dealing with Dengue in the future

Nevertheless, promising developments are on the way. TAK-003, manufactured by Takeda, is currently being reviewed by regulatory authorities in the European Union and other countries with endemic dengue outbreaks. Recently, experts looked to preventive drugs to fight dengue outbreaks just like how it was found to be effective in controlling the spread of malaria. On June 15, the 5th Asia Dengue Summit was held in Singapore, infectious diseases expert, Professor Martin Hibberd from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stated that the effectiveness of preventive malaria drugs can also be applied to controlling dengue outbreaks given that the dengue drug uses the same mechanism. He also included that controlling the chain of dengue transmission within a community or household is time-sensitive, with the prophylactics, the time frame can be extended. Particularly since several days pass before the symptoms of dengue infections is presented in the person.

Currently, in Singapore, researchers are running clinical trials on a drug formulated by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Belgian drug manufacturer. Like the mechanism used by malaria drugs, the new experimental drug prevents 2 proteins (NS3 and NS4B) from the dengue virus.

Symptoms of severe Dengue

As mentioned earlier, reported cases are on the rise and the information suggests that dengue is spreading fast across the Asia region. Dengue infection can become severe especially if you have been infected before or have comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes. Severe dengue has several warning signs, and they include:

  • Bleeding in gums or nose
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Breathlessness

  • Other symptoms you should note for are giddiness when standing or sitting up, decreased urine output or a poor appetite.

    If you are an elderly or know one, it is important to note that seniors may have different symptoms. They may have less aches and pains and may appear to be tired. At times, they may have a decrease in appetite.

    The difference between Covid and Dengue is that Covid includes fever and tend to have more respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath, runny nose, cough, loss of smell or taste and sore throat. If you are unsure, do see a doctor and they will conduct the appropriate test to diagnose the illness you may have.

    How you can prevent Dengue

    Preventing mosquito breeding
    • You can stop mosquitoes from laying eggs by managing and modifying the environment.
    • Make sure to dispose of your solid waste properly. This means putting it in the trash or recycling bin. It’s also important to get rid of any artificial habitats that can hold water. This includes things like plastic bottles or cups.
    • You need to clean your water storage containers every week. This means that you need to cover them, empty them, and then clean them.
    • You need to put insecticide in water containers that are outside.

    Personal protection
    • You can protect yourself from mosquitoes by using window screens, repellents, and mosquito coils. These measures should be used during the day both inside and outside of your home, school, or workplace.
    • You can protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing clothing that covers your skin as much as possible.

    Healthful is a digital media publisher and does not offer professional medical or personal advice. Seek a doctor immediately if you suspect you have dengue.
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