By Asmita Sarkar:
Avinash will not grow older. Neither will the nine other people who have died of dengue already. What is most tragic about Avinash’s story is that his parents committed suicide after he passed away. “Babita’s left hand and Laxmichandra’s right hand were tied together with a dupatta. Babita was wearing her nightdress, just as she was when we last saw her about an hour before,” said Kavita Sejwal, their landlord.
2015’s dengue outbreak has been termed as the largest in the last five years. 1800 cases have already been registered. The season that should have been a welcome respite has turned into a source of dread and disease all over India.
The Delhi Govt. has ordered 1000 extra beds in state run facilities and cancelled holidays of health personnel, but there’s a limit to what they can do. Is it not better to make efforts from our end and prevent, instead of cure?
Here’s a list of things we can do to prevent dengue:
1. The dengue causing female Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds in dark places, closets and corners in domestic spaces. Cleaning out the junk and spraying with mosquito repellents regularly, helps in keeping the indoors mosquito-free.
2. Temephos (brand name Abate) is a pesticide that can be sprayed on stagnating water, that can’t be cleaned out, like water in coolers. Things that one can do, without waiting for someone from the municipal corporation to turn up, is to spray the water with Temephos or petrol to prevent larvae formation.
3. It can’t be emphasised enough that stagnating water in public spaces like puddles, garbage dumps, requires to be drained and sprayed with pesticides. While regular insecticide sprays are done by municipal corporations, we, as residents of the area, can take up the charge of making the community spaces healthier. It is, after all, our children who play in parks and grounds.
4. The dengue mosquito is active throughout the day, especially two hours, after sunrise and before sunset, and there is no vaccine for prevention of dengue. What one can personally do is wear clothes that covers as much skin as possible like full sleeved clothes and full pants, or any other clothing that covers most of our skin.
5. There are many products in the market like Odomos, which have DEET or Picaridin in them. These cream based products can be applied on the exposed portions of the body, as it confounds the mosquito’s senses and makes a person invisible to them. However, the creams should not be applied on the hands of young children and infants.
6. Covering overhead tanks, water storage facilities, putting meshes on air/water pipes are some infrastructural changes that retards the breeding process of the mosquitoes. The dengue mosquito can fly within 200 meters of its breeding site so it becomes imperative to cover up all open water storage facilities.
7. In domestic spaces, using mosquito coils, electric vapour mats can kill the mosquitoes and keep us safe. And these products are needed more in the day time than night, unlike popular belief.
8. In India, mosquito nets are not an uncommon site. It is also possible to spray limited amounts of Permethrin, an insecticide, on mosquito nets that are hung over the beds to keep the insects away.
9. While dengue doesn’t spread from person to person, an infected person should be kept away from spaces where they can be bit again because the infected mosquito can spread the disease further by biting a healthy person.
10. Finally, if you feel a fever coming on, get yourself tested. Early detection is the key to quick recovery. While dengue fever is not fatal, sometimes the patient develops Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome, which can become a serious health risk.
Preventing dengue can’t be the Government’s responsibility alone. Following instructions issued by the Government about maintaining clean surroundings is the role of the community and the individual too. Don’t let anymore Amans and Avinashs die of a disease that is easily preventable.