Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Last week, the Jalisco Health Secretariat launched "Operation Dengue and Chikungunya" an interstate effort in Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima to reduce the population densities of the aedes aegypti mosquito - the transmitter of these diseases.
Dengue is caused by four closely related viruses and is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which breeds in still water. Its symptoms include high fever, nausea, rashes, backache and headaches. There is no vaccine that protects against the dengue virus, but most dengue infections result in relatively mild illness. Some cases can progress to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF), which causes severe internal bleeding as blood vessels collapse, and kills up to 20 percent of its patients. The occurrence of DHF may be associated with those either experiencing their second infection, being immunosuppressed, or being under the age of 15.
Chikungunya, a virus transmitted by the same daytime-biting aedes aegypti mosquito that causes the more deadly dengue fever, is typically not fatal but can cause debilitating symptoms including fever, headache and severe joint pain that can last for several months. There is no commercial vaccine for the virus, which was reported in Mexico for the first time (in the southwestern State of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala) late last year. All reported cases have been imported, no case of chikungunya has been proven to have been spread within Mexico.
First, we all have to ensure our patios and gardens are clean. This includes making sure that there is no standing water in, or under, the pots of your plants.
The mosquito is reproducing in clean water, therefore you should have no dish where there is water accumulation. In Mexico, the "lavabo," a washbasin found inside the service/washing room is often a place where there is an accumulation of water.
Fumigation by the Jalisco Department of Health will only work by eradicating mosquito breeding sources inside and outside of the houses, so if you hear the fumigation trucks in your neighborhood in the morning or at night, you should open your windows and doors.
When possible, remain in well-screened or completely enclosed, air-conditioned areas. When outdoors, wear light-colored clothing with full-length pant legs and sleeves and use DEET-based repellents on exposed skin.
As of May 9th, 82 cases of Dengue and 12 instances of Chikungunya have been registered in the State of Jalisco so far this year.Please remember - to be informed does not mean to be in a panic, but to be conscious there is a problem. By working together we can all make a difference and protect our families. However, if you do get sick, please get the appropriate medical assistance and don't forget that these cases must be reported.