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National Dengue Day 2018
Can mosquito repellents keep dengue mosquitoes at bay?
16.05.18 - Debjani Arora
Can mosquito repellents keep dengue mosquitoes at bay?



Prevention is better than cure and this statement holds true for dengue. Once you get infected with this mosquito-borne disease the road to recovery is really tiring and taxing. One way to keep dengue at bay is to practice preventive measures so you can keep yourself and your family away from mosquitoes that spread dengue. ‘Dengue has emerged as one of the most common mosquito-borne diseases, affecting nearly half of the world’s population. It is caused by the Aedes Aegypti (mosquito) which is a daytime feeder. Therefore, people who are usually outdoors are more susceptible to catch this disease. Risk of dengue and its geographical spread is a major sign of worry and it worsens during the monsoon season,’ says Dr Sushila Kataria, Director, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Medanta – The Medicity.

Most people rely on mosquito repellents to keep away from mosquitoes but the only hitch is these repellents are high on chemicals, especially the potent DEET or diethyltoluamide, is the most common active ingredient used in mosquito and insect repellents. Most studies and consumer reports might say that the amount of DEET used in repellents is safe for kids and adults alike. But no one can deny the fact that DEET is still a chemical – whether in low dose or used in heavy dose it is a poison that camouflages a person’s natural odour thereby preventing mosquito bites. There are other studies that also say that this chemical is responsible for respiratory infections, gut infections, irritation in the eye and could be dangerous for pregnant women and kids. 

‘When you use a cream based mosquito repellent all over your skin the harmful chemicals seep into your skin which can cause reactions like irritation or allergies. Even if your skin doesn’t react to the chemicals, remember the effect will last of one to two hours till the chemicals are effective and once the effect wanes off you will be prone to mosquito bites. Similarly, the liquid repellents used to keep mosquitoes away will be effective till the vapours are present in the atmosphere and mosquitoes can return to your haven once the effect of the vapours subside, provided that these products stand to their promises,’ says Dr Kataria. However, in the bargain, you heap the toxins inside your body which eventually will do you more harm than good. 
 

‘The best way to fight dengue is to take preventive measures which should be practised in a community level with active participation from the community and civil authorities to make people more aware of dengue, its symptoms, preventive measures and thereby bringing about a behavioural change in the community. Prevention is the best and most effective measure for combating dengue. Killing the mosquito in its larvae stage is the best initiate as there is no medication or vaccine to prevent this epidemic. Some measures which can be undertaken on a daily basis include preventing water stagnation, using mosquito repellents, spilling oil on still water to stop mosquito breeding. It is better to make kids wear fully covered clothes than to lather them with repellents,’ she adds. 

Another way to keep dengue mosquitoes at bay is by keeping plants at home that act as natural repellents. ‘Plants like tulsi, lemongrass, neem can help to keep mosquitoes away. Even using neem oil as a diffuser can help to keep your home mosquito free. Remember, repellents can give only temporary relief and is not a long-term solution,’ says Dr Kataria.
 
Courtesy: thehealthsite.com
 

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