Addressing Dengue Fever in Paraguay by Kaitlin Carruth
Posted by benjamincrookston on August 6, 2008
Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by the Aedes mosquito that causes fever, rashes, and almost unbearable bodily aches and pains. I have also heard the illness referred to as the “bone-crushing” disease because of the severe joint pain that it causes. I lived in Paraguay in 2007 when more than 100,000 people were affected with dengue. I saw victims lie helplessly in bed for days, unable to do anything but wait for the symptoms to pass. What I found most disturbing was that majority of the people were helpless and did not have any means to protect themselves from catching the fever. While a cure for dengue will probably remain unavailable for many years to come, Paraguay and local NGOs need to enhance the prevention efforts for the people.
I think the best way to prevent people from getting dengue in Paraguay is by having a government-sponsored program to provide repellent to all those who need it. The repellent could be distributed in the local clinics and pharmacies. While mosquito nets are an effective way to help stop mosquito bites and avoid diseases such as malaria, I am not convinced that they would be as successful with avoiding dengue. A specific mosquito that comes out only when sun is setting spreads the dengue fever. This is not a common time for people to be under a mosquito net in Paraguay. For this reason, I think that it would be a better idea to use a repellent such as DEET in order to prevent mosquito bites. Repellent should be applied to skin and clothes should be treated with the repellent to maximize its effectiveness. Focusing efforts in providing repellent rather than nets would be more beneficial for the people of Paraguay. This would prevent outbreaks such as the one that occurred in 2007.