Dengue infection is a rising problem in Africa. The infection is extremely painful, and can lead to an even worse fever that can kill you. People living in towns and cities are most at risk. Follow the steps below to protect yourself from this illness.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Half the world’s population is at risk from Dengue. It is found in urban areas (towns and cities) in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is more common in Asia and South America, but there have been several outbreaks in Africa recently, for example in Egypt and Burkina Faso.
WHAT CAUSES DENGUE?
Dengue is an infectious disease. It is caused by a virus. The virus is spread by mosquitoes that bite in the day. These mosquitoes can also carry other viruses like Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya. The mosquito carrying the virus is wide-spread across Africa.
Dengue gives you flu-like symptoms. Symptoms appear 4-10 days after you are bitten, and last for 2-7 days. They include:
- Severe headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pains (this is why it is sometimes called ‘break bone fever’)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swollen glands (in your neck, groin and armpits)
Sometimes people get Severe Dengue Fever. This is potentially deadly so medical treatment is needed. You can tell if someone has severe Dengue Fever if develop more symptoms. These symptoms (listed below) normally occur 3–7 days after the first symptoms (listed above).
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting, blood might be in the vomit
- Rapid breathing
- Bleeding gums
The next 24–48 hours are critical. It is essential to seek medical attention. With treatment, most people survive and are cured very quickly.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF?
Here are some methods of protecting yourself:
- To prevent mosquitoes living near where you live, it is important to remove man-made things that they can breed in. This includes anything that water (even small puddles) can collect in, such as used tyres, plastic bags, cups and pots. It is also important to cover, empty and clean water storage containers on a weekly basis.
- Wearing coloured clothing with long sleeves can reduce the chance you will be bitten
- Insecticides can be used in the house and in areas where the mosquitoes might live
- There is also a Dengue vaccine that will stop you being infected.
Dengue Fever normally isn’t lethal but it can be extremely painful. The best way to avoid getting it is to stop mosquitoes living in and near your houses. Don’t leave containers or objects outside that can collect water, and tip out any that you find.
If someone has symptoms of Severe Dengue Fever they need to be treated as quickly as possible!