Friday, September 18, 2015

Simple steps you can take to combat dengue fever mosquitoes - Tips from China

  • CNA
  • 2015-09-11
  • 14:13 (GMT+8)
Patients in an emergency room at a hospital in Tainan, Sept. 10. (Photo/Cheng Ping-chang)
Patients in an emergency room at a hospital in Tainan, Sept. 10. (Photo/Cheng Ping-chang)
The dengue fever outbreak in Taiwan has now climbed to over 7,000 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
With the rapid spread of the disease, there has been a secondary outbreak of old wives' tales, false tonics and cures, but to really make a difference, you'll need a proper understanding of the vector mosquitoes and the most effective prevention measures.
30 minute rapid screening:
The CDC is currently offering free tests for the rapid diagnosis of dengue fever in Tainan and Kaohsiung and the results are available after only 20-30 minutes. A single line indicates no infection, while two lines means a positive result for the disease. Rapid screening is not considered necessary for those who do not have any clinical symptoms of the disease.
Suspected dengue symptoms:
The symptoms of dengue fever include fever, bone and joint pain, back pain, muscle pain, retro-orbital (behind the eye) pain, rashes, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
High-risk groups:
People with chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and the elderly, are especially vulnerable to complications or death as a result of the disease and should be given extra attention during a dengue outbreak.
Life cycle of dengue fever mosquito
Get to know your enemy:
The current dengue virus in Taiwan is being spread by the yellow fever mosquito, which is characterized by a black body, white markings on its legs and a marking on its thorax in the shape of a lyre.
To a lesser extent, the tiger mosquito, characterized by black and white striped legs and a vertical white stripe on its chest, can also spread the disease.
The yellow fever mosquito (aedes aegypti) is a container-inhabiting mosquito that thrives in urban areas and often invades people's homes. The mosquitoes usually can be seen perched in dark, damp, unventilated corners in areas such as the kitchen and the bedroom and on dark curtains and dark hanging clothes.
The tiger mosquito's (aedes albopictus) habitat is mainly outdoors and it favors cool spots such as potted plants, piles of old tires, trees and bushes near its breeding site, bamboo groves and empty premises.
Feeding habits:
An infected female yellow fever mosquito is mainly active during the day when it hunts for blood. The mosquitoes primarily seek human blood and are at their peak in the afternoon from 4-5pm, with a lesser peak from 9am-10am.
Tiger mosquitoes have two peak feeding times, 1-2 hours before dawn and 2-3 hours before sunset. They are most ravenous during the evening period.
Yellow fever mosquitoes are mainly found in cities and counties south of Chiayi, including Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Taitung, and Penghu, while tiger mosquitoes are most prevalent in Taiwan's island plains and areas below 1,500 meters at the foot of the mountains.
Tried and true methods:
Home Protection:
1. Homes should be fitted with window screens and screen doors. It's best to hang mosquito nets while sleeping. Spray area repellent on the screens and screen doors to further keep the mosquitoes at bay.
2. Remove unneeded containers and unused flower pots, and turn all containers that could collect water upside down.
3. Dark areas in the home and basement should be inspected on a regular basis.
4. Use mosquito lamps.
5. Flower pots and water containers in the home must be cleaned at least once a week. Remember to scrub the insides clean.
6. If you are growing aquatic plants indoors, in addition to changing the water often, you can also place small stones in the bottom of the pots. The water level should be higher than the top of stones, as this will prevent larvae development.
Outdoor protection:
1. Reduce the amount of time you're outdoors in the early morning and at dusk.
2. Wear light-colored, long sleeved clothing.
3. Spray all exposed skin with insect repellent that contain DEET (diethyltoluamide), as this is the only product that has empirically been proven to repel mosquitoes.
Products containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) and that have been approved by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been tested for effectiveness, safety and quality pre-market. It has been established that normal use does not produce toxicity, can affect mosquito olfaction and has smear efficacy that can be maintained for a few hours. It is the recommended product for those spending long hours outdoors or in areas where mosquitoes proliferate.
Other products such as citronella:
Essential oils have are popular for those seeking a "natural" option. Common products include citronella oil, lemon oil and other amines, typically come in the form of herbal oils, sprays and wrist rings. Such products offer only short-term protection at best and mainly serve as supplementary protection to products with DEET. The effectiveness of such products in repelling mosquitoes is still unconfirmed.
In addition, some Chinese Indonesians have claimed that eating red guava will help repel the yellow fever mosquito and stave off the disease, but the CDC said that this only aids rehydration. As a high fever and low blood pressure can lead to dehydration, the CDC recommends drinking lots of water and unsweetened fruit juice.

No comments: