Vector borne diseases

What you need to know about dengue but no one is telling you…

What you need to know about dengue but no one is telling you…

–          Dengue is carried by Aedes aegypti mosquito that is easy to identify due to white spots on its legs and body.

–          Dengue is quick to spread because, unlike malaria, you can get dengue infection from a mosquito that has never drunk any blood from an infected person. This is possible because the virus is “inherited” by the next generation of mosquitoes with infected parent-mosquitoes. Dengue virus travels into the mosquito eggs and resurfaces in next generation, making them infectious from birth.

–          Due to the above trait of dengue virus, you can get infected even when no one around you has dengue; but, thankfully, dengue mosquito is not fond of moving more than 500 meters from its base, making dengue a slow moving epidemic.

–          Aedes aegypti mosquito is a home-loving insect that prefers human company so chances of getting bitten by it indoors are far higher.

–          With our cleanliness obsession, we have irradiated natural predators of the mosquito like spiders and geckos from our homes, making it a extremely safe place for the mosquito.

–          Dengue vector, Aedes aegypti mosquito, does not lay eggs in water. The eggs are stuck to the side of the container (or even in depressions that remain moist) close to the waterline.

–          This means that, just by periodically emptying the water from vessel you can’t get rid of the eggs. When you refill the container, eggs are rejuvenated, even after weeks or months. The walls of container must be scrapped hard to ensure that eggs are dislodged and removed.

–          Like all mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti is also fond of moving about during dusk and dawn but it is not driven by the clock. It is driven by low light condition and hence, during cloudy and dull monsoon day, you can get bitten any time of the day.

–          Though often depicted as preferring fresh/clean water for laying eggs, this mosquito species is actually observed to prefer waters with bacterial presence. This means that containers having water with organic residue (like decomposing leaves) require more stringent attention.

–          Aedes aegypti prefers to stay closer to ground so you are more likely to get bitten near the ankle or on the legs, making shoes a useful deterrent. Socks alone won’t work as mosquito will be able to bite through skin-tight cloths.

–          This mosquito prefers to remain silent so you will not be able to depend on its buzzing to know about its arrival. When conditions become suitable (as mentioned above), you better seek cover.

–          Wind and cold are not favoured by mosquitoes; hence fans and ACs work in reducing your chances of getting bitten, but mosquito-net is one of the most effective means of protection.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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