We’ve been hearing a lot lately about mosquito related diseases, especially Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya, all of which are transmitted by mosquito bite. Of concern has been the area in Puerto Vallarta, because of the operation the Jalisco Health Secretariat launched in order to reduce the population density of the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the mosquito responsible for transmitting these diseases. But do we really know what these diseases are, what they cause, and what to do about them?
Dengue is transmitted by the bite of the aedes aegypti mosquito, and the symptoms appear between 3 to 14 days after you’ve been bit. Fortunately, this disease cannot be transmitted from person to person. However, the symptoms caused by it range from mild fever to incapacitating high fever, joint pain, severe headaches, and rashes. There are no existing vaccines or medicines to treat it, but the recommendations include drinking plenty of fluids, using paracetamol to reduce the high fevers and visiting the doctor. There is a severe version of dengue commonly known as dengue hemorrhagic fever characterized by fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding, and even breathing difficulty. The hemorrhagic dengue fever affects mainly children and should be treated by trained physicians and nurses in order to increase survival of patients.
The Zika virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes species, which are aggressive daytime biters. However, these mosquitoes can also bite at night. Unlike Dengue, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, which can result in birth defects. Another way this disease can be passed on is through sexual transmission if the man is infected, blood transfusions, and laboratory exposure. Unfortunately, just like Dengue, there is no vaccine or medicine for this fever. Most people do not develop any symptoms, but a blood or urine test can confirm whether or not you have it.
Chikungunya is a viral disease that can cause fever and severe joint pain, as well as muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rashes. There is no cure as of yet, so the treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms of the patient. The virus can cause acute, sub-acute or chronic diseases, depending on how long the pain lasts. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. There are different tests that can be used for diagnosis, among which you can find ELISA tests, and by PCR, both which are blood-based tests.
The Diseases in Puerto Vallarta
Unfortunately Puerto Vallarta does see several cases of dengue every year, making it the most common of all three. There hasn’t been a reported case of Zika or Chikunguya. The best way of avoiding any of the three is to take the necessary measures that will avoid any mosquito bite.
As you can see, mosquito bites can lead to very painful diseases, such as the ones mentioned above, and there is no cure but time for this. However, this does not mean there is no way to prevent them.
In order to help prevent any of these diseases, you should:
- Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing
- Wear protective clothing (like long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks)
- Use mosquito repellent (which you can apply not only to yourself, but also your clothing and shoes)
- Avoid standing water, as that’s where the mosquitoes breed. In your house you can turn over empty buckets to avoid collecting excess water, and cover containers that contain water that cannot be emptied.
- Cover your trash can or dustbin when you are not using them.