The World Health Organization (WHO) regards dengue fever as the world’s fastest-spreading mosquito-borne disease. It is prevalent in more than 100 countries worldwide, affecting around 400 million lives annually. Despite these staggering numbers, misleading dengue information is rampant in many communities and even online. Here are some of the traditional myths and misconceptions about dengue fever that you must clear once and for all:
You cannot get dengue fever twice.
The dengue virus (DENV) responsible for dengue fever has four distinct but related serotypes. When a person recovers from their first infection, they gain lifetime immunity from this single serotype only. Contracting the disease from the other three dengue types is still possible, with each subsequent infection potentially more severe than its predecessor.
Dengue is contagious.
The DENV is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected female mosquito, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito. You cannot contract dengue being exposed to a cough or sneeze from an infected person. Cases of DENV transmission through blood transfusion or organ transplantation are also rare. Thus, vector control is still key in preventing the spread of dengue.
An infected mosquito breeds only in dirty stagnant water.
An Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds by laying their eggs in stagnant water, be it clean or dirty. Basins, pots, jars and rain gutters are among the typical containers and surfaces around the house where water can stagnate. That is why it is important to drain these containers of water or to keep them tightly closed with a lid at all times.
Dengue fever is only prevalent during the rainy season.
Considering the Aedes aegypti’s habit of laying eggs in water, it is natural to associate the peak of their reproduction with the rainy season. However, mosquitoes are also mainly attracted to carbon dioxide and heat, which suggests that they are just as active during summer. DENV is capable of infecting people all year round and thus, the risk of infection is also constant.
Your body may heal itself naturally from dengue fever.
Dengue fever is usually a week-long episode of severe headache, vomiting, and bone and muscle pain. There are people who do recover from dengue fever without hospitalization, but not without adequate rest, hydration and painkillers. Self-managing dengue fever is dangerous as there is a possibility of the disease evolving into severe dengue. In any case of dengue fever, it is always best to seek immediate medical attention.
There is no specific cure for dengue fever yet, but there are many ways to prevent and deal with it. The key is in acquiring accurate information and understanding more about the disease, which you can do so by seeking a professional’s advice rather than being overcome by fear or anxiety through hearsay.
Dengue and severe dengue [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 6]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dengue-and-severe-dengue
Dengue [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 6]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/index.html
Dengue Fever [Internet]. WebMD. 2010 [cited 2021 Jan 6]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dengue-fever-reference#2