Preventing dengue

Preventing dengue

September 20, 2015

With dengue raring its head in Kolkata, it is time to take a look at the precautions you should take to prevent the disease from striking you. Dengue fever is spread through bites of infected female Aedes egypti mosquitoes.


However, before knowing the preventive steps, it is better to know what the symptoms of dengue are.

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Severe headache, pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain. Contortions due to severe such pains have caused it to be also called ‘breakbone fever’.
  • A bright red rash usually appears 3-4 days after the onset of fever. It is seen first on the lower limbs and chest. It may slowly spread to other parts of the body.
  • Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Gastritis and some abdominal pain

Severe dengue fever may lead to a condition called dengue haemorrhagic. In this case, the blood vessels start to leak and cause bleeding from the nose, mouth and gums. Bruising can be a sign of bleeding inside the body. The blood vessels can collapse, causing shock (dengue shock syndrome).

The symptoms of dengue fever are illustrated through the diagram below.



The major steps to be followed towards reducing the risk of dengue infection are:

  • Keeping your surroundings clean
  • Using mosquito repellents in the house even during the day
  • In case of an outbreak, wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers
  • Using mosquito nets if the sleeping area is not screened or air-conditioned
  • Spraying insecticides wherever you find collected water


Preventing the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes is the best step that can be taken for preventing dengue. The following are the important steps towards achieving that:
  • Discarding unwanted cups and bottles which collect rainwater and breed mosquitoes
  • Changing water of flower vases and removing water from flower pot trays
  • Scrubbing the inside of vases and flower pot trays to remove mosquito eggs
  • Flushing roots of plants with running water
  • Removing and cleaning air-conditioner trays
  • Regularly turning over all water storage containers when not in use to keep them dry


There is no specific antiviral treatment available.

General recommendations include controlling fever and pain with paracetamol rather than aspirin (aspirin may promote bleeding), and increasing fluid intake. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.

Some other information

The incubation period (that is, the time between becoming infected and developing symptoms) for dengue fever is 3 to 14 days, more commonly 4 to 7 days.

A mosquito becomes infected if it bites an infected person while the fever is present. After biting an infected person, it takes 8 to 12 days before the mosquito can infect other people.

The mosquito remains infectious for life. An important thing to remember is that dengue fever is not directly spread from one person to another.

Dengue virus infection explained


There is no vaccine to prevent human infection by dengue virus. However, scientists are constantly on the lookout for one. A recent promising report has emanated from a team of Indian scientists at the New Delhi-based International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. The team reported the breakthrough a few weeks ago; the vaccine is now being tested on monkeys. The scientists say it will take time to get to the human trials stage and if everything works to plan, a made-in-India dengue vaccine could be available in five years from now. 

Work on the vaccine started five years ago with an investment of Rs 8 crore. The development was largely kept secret and the team procured an international patent only last month.

Lead image:

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