DANGER: Identified by the black and white stripes on their bodies, the Aedes mosquito requires just one teaspoon of water to lay its eggs and for the larvae to fully develop into an adult mosquito. Hence it can breed practically any place where clean, standing water is available
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
If you’ve been shutting your windows every evening and hiding indoors thinking you’re safe, think again! Unlike the malaria mosquito which is active mostly post sunset, the dengue mosquito is an all-day buffet eater. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is very important to successfully treat dengue…
RICH and poor, bold and beautiful, the dengue mosquito spares nobody. In fact, all the bold and beautiful, rich and powerful who stay in fancy villas and apartments, are even more vulnerable to contacting dengue viral fever.
The dengue mosquito is not your common gutter variety of mosquitoes. On the contrary, the dengue mosquito — Aedes aegypti — is very fastidious. It breeds during the daylight and does not take shelter in the darkness like a petty thief. Dengue mosquitos do not breed in dirty filthy water sanctuaries created by the corruption-ridden road works of the Corporation of the City of Panaji or Public Works Department. They breed only in clean rain water pools.
The dengue mosquito is a very aesthetic creature and fond of wandering around flower pots. All the fancy apartments which do not have open grounds have flower pots on their window sills. At the bottom of these flower pots there are dainty saucers. The residents use clean water to water their plants and this clean water collects in the saucers. Here too you will find the breeding grounds of the dengue mosquito.
The dengue mosquito also loves the art décor sculptures of zen philosophy in corporate offices which may comprise of jugs, glasses and bottles of water. Very decorative, with clean water and pebbles in them in them to look beautiful, with no other purpose or utility value they are prime breeding locations.
Then there are those who love bonsai and cacti collections in their drawing rooms. Not much watering is required but memsahib does not take care of them and the maid forgets to look after them, leaving them unattended. Here too our friends the dengue mosquitos come flirting to flourish in the sunshine, becoming most active within two hours of sunrise. After biting and sucking the blood of their many innocent victims they usually retire at sunset.
Fancy anti-mosquito repellents can’t save you against the deadly dengue mosquito bite. Wearing Odomos or using All-Out doesn’t drive the dengue mosquito away. Check your garage out in the open where discarded tyres may be lounging and gathering water pools in them when it rains. This is not dirty water but clean rain water. Dengue mosquitoes party here to their heart’s content, having a ball of a time.
I stay in a slum colony of Nepali migrants. But it is not the migrants who brought the dengue epidemic to Dempo bhat in Tonca this prolonged monsoon season. The dengue virus probably came with a group of relatives to Tonca where there was a Chovoth Ganesh celebration. Members of the family here were the first recipients of the dengue mosquito’s love bites. Unfortunately, I stay in a two-storey home-office villas opposite this large ancestral home with a banyan tree shrine in it. Lots of watery pools here for dengue mosquitos to visit and breed.
I don’t know when the dengue mosquito bit me. But soon I was suffering from intermittent fever, shivering as if from the cold. Deciding to get myself checked out I moved to a private hospital where I received the unhappy news of dengue and runaway diabetes.
The seriousness of dengue fever viral infection depends on blood platelet count. Platelets are the nutritious element in blood. The normal count of platelets is 1.5 lakh to 4.5 lakh per microlitre of blood. In viral fever, it reduces up to 90,000 to one lakh. In dengue, this count goes down to 20,000 or even lower. If their count sinks below 5,000 you are doomed to be in trouble big time and will require platelet transfusion to live.
Platelets are only sorted and stored in blood banks. Goa has only one blood bank for the entire state, with very little staff. Private hospitals do not have blood banks. They get their requirement of blood and platelet pouches from the GMC’s Blood Bank which is open only up to 12 noon. So if you are in a small private hospital and your case is mismanaged and platelet transfusions are not given to you in time if you need them urgently you can literally bleed to death with blood oozing from your mouth, the skin of your faces, joints and so on, a terrible story to recount.
In any case there is no cure for dengue we are told. The dengue runs its course and if you are lucky you live, or else…it is a matter of being diagnosed in time and the required medicines given to nip the viral infection from running away out of control. Early diagnosis of what kind of dengue fever it is, is crucial, and if any delay is there you may just find yourself dead.
Please do not mix up dengue with malaria. Malaria mosquitoes have different breeding pattern. Malaria mosquitoes are dirty fellows and thrive in dirty water areas. Every pothole in town is a mosquito sanctuary. Also they are most active just before sunset when they seek entry into homes for feasting. So instead of admiring the sunset out of doors remember to stay indoors and shut your doors and windows if you want no mosquitoes seeking their victims small and big in your family.
In any case if you’re bitten by a mosquito the first thing you must do is rush to a pathologist. A good pathologist will take your blood and in ten minutes, through the blood test, inform you if it is malaria vivax or falciparum, or dengue, and what you must do for treatment to save yourself.
Falciparum malaria is the most dangerous. For malaria vivax you may pick up quinine tables from your Primary Health Centre and seek further advice. If it is falciparum malaria do not go to any nursing home for treatment. This infection causes damage to the liver and you may succumb to respiratory problems. You will need a ventilator if the infection becomes worse. The best choice is to go to a private hospital which has a ventilator or to the Goa Medical College & Hospital (GMC) Casualty department. Here there are ventilators you may need to save your life.
We may have just failed to land on the moon, but we are nowhere near to abolishing the falcipuram and dengue mosquitos from our lives. Scrap these Moon missions and concentrate on malaria and dengue fever first please. Unless our scientists can only function in astro space.