Dangerous Dengue

Medical experts have warned that the vector borne disease dengue is spreading at an alarming rate and, hilly regions including the most densely populated Kathmandu Valley might witness its outbreak unless preventive measures are taken in time. Proliferation of mosquitos, which get breeding ground in stagnated water around human settlements, is the main cause of dengue spread. Therefore, medics have prescribed measures to destroy mosquito larva and urged the public to use repelling methods to stay away from mosquito bites. Come summer season and dengue infection spreads in dangerous proportions, making many sick and even taking lives of others. In the past, it was assumed that dengue danger is limited in the Terai plains alone. Recent assessments made by concerned experts indicate that hills are also not safe.

The adverse impacts of global warming and climate change are being increasingly felt in Nepal and this hostile environmental phenomenon has contributed to the unprecedented spread of dengue. As temperatures have been increasing over the decades and the presence of mosquitos have been spotted in high altitude stations like Jomsom, the disease may occur in the mountain in the future. This shows that climate change is having its negative effects on public health in addition to its hazardous impacts on agriculture, weather patterns, water sources, economy and livelihood. Fever being the major symptom of dengue, many people tend to dismiss it to be a common viral fever and fail to seek medical help in time. Lives may be lost if too much time gets lost before visiting a health facility and seeking medical treatment.

Dengue is a disease of relatively new arrival in Nepal but it has spread its risky tentacles within a short time as rising temperatures have created favourable conditions for the proliferation of mosquitos. A total of 3,425 dengue cases were recorded in Nepal in fiscal year 2018/19 with State 1 witnessing the highest number of patients visiting health facilities which stood at 3,152. In the previous fiscal year 2017/18, only 2,111 dengue cases were recorded. The sharp rise of the number of infected people within a year shows that the disease is spreading at an alarming rate. Dengue virus is transmitted to humans by the female Aedes Aegypti mosquito when a person is bitten by it. In addition to high fever, an infected person experiences severe headache, joint pain, pain behind the eye, back pain and skin rashes.

The disease is curable if medical treatment begins in time. Those who see a doctor too late may be at high risk. Doctors have suggested preventive measures against dengue both at the government level and household level. Government medical teams have carried out larva destruction measures in high risk areas but they have not been effective to control the spread of dengue. So, individuals and households are also advised to take preventive sanitary measures. It is not only the large pools and ponds where dengue carrying mosquitos breed and thrive. They may be growing in flower pots, plastic pools, water tanks, buckets, tree holes and even coconut shells. Anti-larva chemicals need to be sprayed in all these potential sources every bed needs to be protected by a good mosquito net. 

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