There are no specific medications to treat dengue, and there is no vaccine commercially available against dengue. Therefore, prevention is the most important step to reduce the risk of dengue infection. There are several ways of prevention:
Figure 1: Dengue prevention through mosquito control and insect repellent
Video 1. Dengue prevention in Thailand, 2008
Prevention by Mosquito Control
The best way to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, like artificial containers that hold water in and around the home (see figure 2, video 2 and 3). In urban areas, Aedes mosquitos breed on water collections in artificial containers such as plastic cups, used tires, broken bottles, flower pots, etc (see also transmission of dengue). Periodic draining or removal of artificial containers is the most effective way of reducing the breeding grounds for mosquitos. Larvicide treatment is another effective way to control the vector larvae but the larvicide chosen should be long-lasting and preferably. There are some very effective insect growth regulators (IGRs) available which are both safe and long-lasting (e.g. pyriproxyfen). For reducing the adult mosquito load, fogging with insecticide is somewhat effective.
To eliminate standing water:
Figure 2: Check for Aedes mosquito breeding in your home. Source: National Environmental Agency, Singapore. (Click on image to enlarge)
Natural control - Mesocyclops
Even though this method of mosquito control was successful in rural provinces, not much is known about how effective it could be if applied to cities and urban areas. The Mesocyclops can survive and breed in large water containers, but would not be able to do so in small containers of which most urban area have within their homes. Also, Mesocyclops are hosts for the guinea worm, a pathogen that causes a parasite infection, and so this method of mosquito control cannot be used in countries that are still susceptible to the guinea worm. The biggest dilemma with Mesocyclops is that its success depends on the participation of the community. This idea of a possible parasite bearing creature in household water containers dissuades people from continuing the process of inoculation, and without the support and work of everyone living in the city, this method would not be successful.
Prevention by Reducing Mosquito Bites
Prevention of mosquito bites is another way of preventing disease. The adult mosquitoes like to bite inside as well as around homes, during the day and at night when the lights are on. To protect yourself, use insect repellent on your skin while indoors or out, mosquito traps or mosquito nets. When used properly, repellents are safe for kids and adults alike. Keep in mind that even though some of them are classified as pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), repellents don't kill mosquitoes. So you may still see these annoying insects buzzing about. Repellents simply make it more difficult for mosquitoes to find you.
Common insect repellents include:
When possible, wear also long sleeves and pants for additional protection. Also, make sure window and door screens are secure and without holes. If available, use air-conditioning (see alsoprevention for travelers.
Clothing tips to keep in mind include: