Monsoon and mosquitoes go hand-in-hand, Going by a new report, dengue is fast spreading in the Indian capital city. The report issued by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi revealed that more than 160 dengue cases have been reported in the capital till mid-July in 2023. It is alarming as it is the highest for this period since 2018, as per a report by PTI. Many people have a lot to say about this vector-borne disease, but not all are facts. Read on to find out more about common myths around dengue.
To debunk dengue myths, Health Shots reached out to Dr Nikhil S Kulkarni, MD Fellowship of American College of Physician and Infectious Disease specialist, K J Somaiya Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai.
What is dengue?
When it starts raining, many mosquitoes come out and play. Now there is a type of mosquito, aedes, that can bite you or your family and give dengue fever. These mosquitoes breed in stagnant water which is why we are always told to clean our surroundings. Dr Kulkarni says 80 percent of infections may be asymptomatic. But there are some symptoms like sudden onset of high fever, headache and body ache, pain behind the eyes, abdomen pain, bleeding from gums or nose, vomiting, lethargy and confusion.
Myths around dengue
Monsoon happens to be a favourable breeding condition for mosquitoes. This leads to an increase in their population. The expert explains that during monsoon, rainwater gets collected at many places, and aedes mosquitoes breed in this stagnant water. While this is true, there are many myths around dengue.
Myth 1: Dengue can be easily transmitted from one person to another.
Fact: Dr Kulkarni says that it does not transmit from person to person as it is caused by the bite of infected aedes mosquitoes.
Myth 2: Only aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit dengue.
Fact: Although aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the primary factor for dengue, other species like aedes albopictus can also transmit the dengue virus.
Myth 3: Platelet transfusion is needed every time you get dengue fever.
Fact: Normal platelet counts are 150000 to 410000, but in dengue, they might drop to (50000 to 150000) level, by the fourth or fifth day of illness. Platelet transfusion is done only if the platelet level falls below 10000 or there is any evidence of bleeding.
Myth 4: Platelets can be increased only by platelet transfusions.
Fact: Platelets can be increased naturally too. You can try these ways to raise platelets at home –
• Have papaya leaf extract, which has an enzyme ALOX-12. It naturally stimulates platelet formation, says the expert.
• Correct dehydration with ORS or coconut water or pomegranate juice.
• A diet rich in folates is needed, so eat oranges, kiwis, cranberry, papayas, tomatoes or dragon fruit.
• Foods like whole cereals and asparagus also help.
Myth 5: You can eat without restriction during the illness.
Fact: If you or your loved one has dengue, it is important to follow a certain diet and avoid some food. For example, they cannot eat oily food. Fried or oily foods contain a lot of fat which might lead to higher blood pressure, weakening the immune system.
Tips to prevent dengue
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your family from dengue.
• It’s time to say goodbye to stagnant water.
• Destroy mosquito habitats by keeping places clean and using insecticide.
• Wear clothes to cover most parts of the body.
• Use mosquito net and repellents.
• Eat foods rich in vitamin C and folate.
There is no dengue-fighting vaccine or medicine that is effective, so it is best to focus on the preventive measures.