Dengue is spread when a female Aedes aegypti mosquito bites an infected patient and then bites healthy people within the following week. The mosquito can bite up to 10 different people before she has had her fill, which is why multiple members of the same family are falling ill.
“We are receiving more than 500 cases per day and more than 70% of those I oversee have been tested positive,” said Sher Bahadur Pun, Chief of the Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku. “Our response is not proportionate to the enormity of the crisis. We are risking our own health to treat infected patients.”
A female Aedes mosquito lays from 500-1,000 eggs in her lifetime, and if infected, all her eggs are also infected from birth and the epidemic multiplies. The best strategy to stop this cycle is destroying mosquito habitat, experts say. Personal protective measures are equally important.
“No one is safe since the mosquitoes are everywhere, from plains to the mountains,” said Prakash Prasad Shah of the Epidemiological Diseases Control Division. “Also, fogging is not effective — it only kills adult mosquitoes. We need search and destroy missions and this requires a collective effort.”
After Dharan started an anti-dengue campaign by targeting the mosquito’s breeding spots, there has been a drop in the four-month outbreak there. Similarly, dengue cases in New Delhi fell 80% after 2015 due to a massive public awareness campaign.
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Only 10% of those infected with the dengue virus show symptoms and need further treatment. Very few suffer from complications due to haemorrhage and internal bleeding. Of the four types of dengue viruses, most Nepalis seem to be afflicted with the milder forms, either type 1 or 2.
There is no vaccine or definite treatment for dengue fever yet. Patients are kept under observation and given supportive treatment for fever and with a blood transfusion if there is a drop in blood platelet count.
This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.