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Dengue and Chikungunya: The Dirge of a Nation

The 'buzz' words today throughout the country are 'Dengue' and 'Chikungunya'. Both these flu-like illnesses, brought on by the bite of an infected Aedes //aegypti female mosquito, have set the death bells knolling in several Indian states. Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease in the world according to WHO. The administrative machinery is battling with a situation that is threatening to go out of hand unless a formidable solution appears on the horizon.

The onset of monsoons in the country has led to a surge of breeding among these mosquitoes, which co exists with humans and share the same milieu. Both Dengue and Chikungunya are common to the tropics and are not contagious.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are the causative vectors of both Dengue fever and Chikungunya, carry the virus that causes these diseases. Please note the following about the Aedes mosquito –

a. It is the female mosquito that feeds on blood as it requires the blood protein to produce its eggs.

b. The female Aedes mosquito searches for suitable places to lay their eggs and it is usually the stagnant water. In Delhi, 90% of these mosquitoes were found rampantly breeding in the water stagnant in coolers.

c. The male mosquitoes usually feed only on plant nectar.

d. Aedes mosquitoes causing dengue and chikungunya usually bite during the day, unlike those that cause malaria, and their biting spree lasts from dawn to dusk.

e. The mosquito is attracted by the body odours, carbon dioxide and heat emitted from the animal or humans.

Dengue, also known as 'break bone fever' is caused by the dengue virus. It sets in eight days after the mosquito bite. Mortality rate can be reduced to 15%, if timely treatment is provided. Dengue fever is sub- typed as Classical and Hemorrhagic.

In the Classical type of fever the patients suffer from all the typical symptoms,
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