Skip to Content

Published on June 10, 2015

Project Prevention

June 10, 2015

little girl looking down at a bug bite on her armResearchers around the globe are working to eradicate mosquito-borne illness, dengue fever, and they may be closer to answers than ever before.

Most commonly found in subtropical and tropical environments, dengue fever is not a disease we think we’re at risk for in the United States. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the dengue fever has become more common during the past few decades. Currently, half of the world’s population—roughly 2.5 billion people—is at risk. Thanks to years of work to develop a vaccine that will eradicate the disease, hope may be on the horizon.

About the Illness

Spread by bites from infected female mosquitoes belonging to the Aedes aegypti species, the dengue virus can be passed by the same mosquito to multiple people, causing a wide variety of symptoms including:

  • Bruising
  • High fever
  • Pain in the joints and muscles
  • Rash
  • Severe headache

In rare instances, the illness may evolve into a serious strain of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), which can result in life-threatening circumstances. DHF can cause coma, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems and respiratory complications. It is a leading cause of death in children who reside in Asia and Latin America.

Searching for Solutions

DHF was first identified in the 1950s, and during the past half-century scientists have been experimenting with possible treatments and vaccines. Brazilian researchers have developed genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes to battle the mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus, but according to the WHO, the only methods of disease control that have proven effective in managing DHF on a wide scale include preventive measures such as:

  1. Frequent draining to limit standing water where infected mosquitoes breed
  2. Insecticide application
  3. Proper waste disposal
  4. Medically-administered rehydration of people with DHF

However, a number of promising vaccines are currently in phase II and phase III clinical trials. And, according to the National Institutes of Health, if one or more of them prove effective, we may be one step closer to controlling DHF around the world.

When Mosquitoes Bite

More common during the summer than backyard barbecues and fireflies, mosquitoes and other biting, flying insects can make any gathering or outdoor activity quite uncomfortable. Try these steps to minimize contact with these pesky bugs.

  • Avoid wearing bright colors that attract insects. Instead, opt for muted, neutral tones.
  • Forget about fragrance if you’re heading outside. Colognes and perfumes may encourage the wrong kind of attention.
  • Apply bug spray before spending time outdoors.
  • Wear long pants and sleeves when you’re walking in the woods.
Footer Curve