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Busting Dengue Myths

"Our best defense against dengue is knowledge."
By: Zam TorrazoBusting Dengue Myths

“Ignorance is the most serious disease of mankind and is the cause of all its ills. Healing is achieved through knowledge.”-Buddha

Mosquito-transmitted diseases are prevalent throughout the tropics and subtropics such as the Philippines. One of the most widespread is the dengue fever, a disease caused by a family of viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, or DEN-4) that are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no vaccine for it. There is also no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. Dengue treatment is directed toward relief of the symptoms (symptomatic treatment). Dengue mortality is not high, (below 1% with appropriate medical treatment), but there are myths about the disease that have led to fatal consequences because treatment was not given on time or the patient was not given proper medical attention. Let’s clear up some of the most known myths about this virus:

· Dengue is a contagious disease. Dengue is not contagious and cannot spread via human contact. It can be contracted from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.

· Low platelet count is equivalent to dengue.

“My platelet count is low – it means that I must have dengue.”

This is a common misconception for all patients suspected to have dengue. While it is true that there is a high possibility that you have dengue if you have fever and have a low platelet count,  it can also not be dengue. There are other diseases that present similar conditions such as chikugunya, yellow fever, HIV, hepatitis B/C, malaria, scrub typhus and leptospirosis. The best way to confirm is to go to a hospital and have a blood test.

· Life-long immunity from dengue. Since there are different serotypes of dengue, a person infected before (e.g. DEN-1) can be infected by other types (e.g. DEN-2, DEN-3, or DEN-4). Each episode of infection will give you a life-long protective immunity to the same serotype, but not to the other serotypes.

· Home remedies such as taking guava juice, papaya leaves will raise your platelet count and cure dengue. The misunderstanding of the public lies in the over-rated significance of the platelet count. Whatever you eat or drink, the platelet count will recover by itself usually starting by the 7-8th day of illness. Dengue fever in the vast majority is a self-limiting illness. What is far more important than the platelet count is to keep the patient constantly hydrated. Platelet count will rise once the infection reaches its recovery phase, regardless of the remedy.

· The Aedes mosquito can’t fly high-staying in high rise buildings will protect you. Do not underestimate a mosquito’s mobility: they can travel via lifts and can breed in stagnant water everywhere. 

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