A Closer Look On Dengue Fever
Is dengue an emerging infectious disease?
Yes. All types of dengue virus are re-emerging worldwide and causing larger and more frequent epidemics, especially in cities in the tropics. The emergence of dengue as a major public health problem has been most dramatic in the western hemisphere. Dengue fever has reached epidemic levels in Central America and is threatening the United States.
Several factors are contributing to the resurgence of dengue fever:
- No effective mosquito control efforts are underway in most countries with dengue.
- Public health systems to detect and control epidemics are deteriorating around the world.
- Rapid growth of cities in tropical countries has led to overcrowding, urban decay, and substandard sanitation, allowing more mosquitoes to live closer to more people.
- The increase in non-biodegradable plastic packaging and discarded tires is creating new breeding sites for mosquitoes.
- Increased jet air travel is helping people infected with dengue viruses to move easily from city to city.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is also on the rise. Persons who have been infected with one or more forms of dengue virus are at greater risk for the more severe disease. With the increase in all types of virus, the occurrence of dengue hemorrhagic fever becomes more likely.
How can dengue be prevented?
There is no vaccine to prevent dengue. Prevention centers on avoiding mosquito bites when traveling to areas where dengue occurs and when in U.S. areas, especially along the Texas-Mexico border, where dengue might occur. Eliminating mosquito breeding sites in these areas is another key prevention measure.
Avoid mosquito bites when traveling in tropical areas:
Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing.
When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
Avoid heavily populated residential areas.
When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas. Use bednets if sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned.
If you have symptoms of dengue, report your travel history to your doctor.
Eliminate mosquito breeding sites in areas where dengue might occur:
Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around homes. Discard items that can collect rain or run-off water, especially old tires.
Regularly change the water in outdoor bird baths and pet and animal water containers.