I met this man on his bike outside my front gate earlier this week. We didn’t have chance to chat, but I know that he’s on the front line of Delhi’s battle against the nasty little Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a real menace once the rains arrive. This tiny creature is a carrier of dengue fever and chikungunya. These are two diseases that you definitely don’t want to catch. Last year, around this time, I came down with dengue fever. It’s was far from fun. It kicked me into touch for weeks.
Prevention is better than cure.
There isn’t a cure for either dengue or chikungunya. There’s no vaccine. The only way to prevent catching either disease is to avoid being bitten. And that’s not easy with so much water around after a heavy monsoon.
A mosquito becomes a carrier of the dengue or chikungunya virus after feasting on an infected person. It then passes the virus onto the next person that it chooses to dine on. And so the cycle on infection goes on and on.
I’m not a doctor, but here’s some advice on how to avoid being bitten and help stop the spread of this nasty little mosquito.
Bite avoidance is the best bet
- When is dinner time? The Aedes aegypti likes to dine during the day. But it’s happy to eat you at any time.
- Use Insect repellent. The UK’s National Health Service says that products containing 50% DEET are most effective, but advises that lower concentrations should be used for children.
- Wear loose clothing and cover up. Put your arms and legs away, wear long sleeve shirts and trousers and make sure clothes are loose fitting. Mosquitoes can bite through tight fitting clothing to get to your blood.
- Use plug based repellants (like this), coils and other devices in the home.
- Sleep under a mosquito net. One that has been treated with an insecticide is advisable.
The Delhi government is also encouraging citizens to come together and clear areas where mosquitoes breed.
Aedes aegypti only need a small amount of water in which to lay their eggs. In seven to ten days they’ll hatch, so make sure anything that holds water is emptied or changed at least once a week.
In the home domestic containers, flower pots, plates and trays, ornaments, plants and even toilet bowls and cisterns are popular breeding areas. Check out for water gathering on tarpaulins and don’t forget to regularly change the water in desert coolers.
Look around your local area and take action too. Drains, pipes, tyres and communal area plant pots could become breeding areas. Take action, talk to your neighbours and work with colony community representatives to clean areas and keep them free of mosquito breeding sites.
Last year Delhi had its worst Dengue outbreak in 20 years. Let’s hope this year that things are a lot better for everyone.