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Some myths people follow to avert dengue



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By Arpana Adhikari

Kathmandu, Sept. 12: With the outbreak of dengue fever in various parts of Nepal, panicky people have started following whatever tips they come across to avid the disease.
Panic among people has further amplified after the media reported about the high profile personalities afflicted by dengue fever.
Subsequently, people are getting more cautious to prevent themselves and their family members from being afflicted by the disease.
As the fear of dengue virus has deepened, the panic-stricken people have exhibited a tendency to grab whatever tips they come across, especially in social media, to foil the disease. Recently, many tips, most of them without any scientific ground, went viral in the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The most popular tip, albeit without any palpable truth, which has been followed widely by the panicky valley denizens is that the aedes aegypti, the dengue-causing mosquitos, bite only below the knees because they cannot fly higher than the height of the human leg.
Following the advice, some denizens are found wearing clothes to cover their leg parts and applying mosquito repellent lotion only below the knees to prevent the mosquitoes from biting them.
Likewise, another tip that is doing the round is that applying coconut oil on skin will also help avoid bites of dengue causing mosquitos.
In a hope of escaping dengue fever, Pranita Shrestha of Koteshwor has been adopting this precaution advice for the past two weeks.
“After I came across the tips in Facebook, I make sure that all my family members cover their lower body parts before leaving the house,” she told The Rising Nepal.
Sumit Upadhaya, a local of Kamalpokhari, said he had stopped wearing half pants and slipper and has started applying coconut oil below the knee thinking it would save him from the dengue disease.
Hareram Baral of Sifal said that many of his Facebook friends had shared the same message. “Thinking that it will be a useful one, I have forwarded the same message to my dear ones,” he added.
Contrary to this, medical experts have said that the aedes mosquitos can fly higher than the knee level.
International researches have also proved that the mosquitoes have laid eggs at a height of 200 meters from ground level.
Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, Chief of Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku, said no research was done in the field but in Nepal there were records of the aedes mosquitoes biting the people staying on the third floor of a building.
Pun said, “There is no reason to assume that aedes mosquitos cannot fly above the knee. But typically it bites from the back side and on the lower part of the legs, neck and face. Covering only the lower body parts cannot work.”
It was not scientifically proven that applying coconut oil could avoid misquote bites, he added.
Dr. Anup Bastola, communicable disease expert, said, “Aedes mosquito can fly anywhere and everywhere. It can bite any part of the body.”
So only covering from head to toe could prevent an individual

from mosquito bites. At the same time, preventing water from accumulating and maintaining cleanliness of the locality are equally important, he added.
According to Pun, aedes mosquitos are the cleverest types of mosquitoes. The most dangerous thing about the aedes mosquito is that it has an ability of breeding in clean water.
Dr. Pun said his observation showed that aedes mosquitoes were more active from 9am to12 pm and from 3pm to 5pm in Nepal.
“Risk is thought to be higher during period of intense mosquitoes feeding activity, two to three hours after dawn and during the early evening.”
Dr. Bastola said usually these mosquitoes move indoor to protect themselves from wind, therefore, using mosquito nets while sleeping is one of the best preventive measures to keep one safe from the disease, he said.