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6 tips to keep your New Year dengue-free

People often forget the mortal enemy might be right inside their homes, killing more humans than all of the world’s wars combined. Here's how to avoid the dengue scare.

While terrorism and extra judicial killings were among the hottest topics of 2016, people often forget the mortal enemy might be right inside their homes, killing more humans than all of the world’s wars combined.

The mosquito might be no more than the size of a dime, yet this virtually invisible vampire that feeds on human blood is capable of deciding fates and crippling civilizations. Everybody is vulnerable; even kings such as Tutankhamun and conquerors like Alexander the Great succumbed to vector-borne diseases like malaria. Anyone, at some point of one’s life, must have been bitten by one of the 2,700 known species of moquitoes.

Insects like mosquitoes and flies are the most common bacteria and disease carriers in tropical places like the Philippines.

The Philippines, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), ranked seventh in the world with the highest number of dengue fever cases from 2004 to 2010. The Philippines’ Department of Health (DoH) warns that mosquito-caused illnesses like dengue and Zika will continue to rise as the country approaches summer, the peak of mosquito breeding.

Since treatments for mosquito-borned diseases like dengue remain elusive, the WHO stresses that prevention is still better than cure. Physician Ruth Doligon gives the following tips on how to prevent dengue this 2017.

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Search and destroy

To avoid mosquito larvae from developing, Dr. Doligon advises to regularly clean or get rid of cans, bottles, old tires, and other stuff that might collect rain water and attract mosquitoes to breed in them. Wash flower vases thoroughly at least once a week. Close water containers properly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in them.

Grow insect-repelling plants

Lavender, rosemary, sage, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, peppermint, catnip, citronella, and neem trees are believed to repel adult mosquitoes known as “Aedes”.

Wear protective clothing

Use long pants and polos in areas with mosquitoes.

Seek early consultation

If you have skin rashes and been having fever for two days, go to the nearest hospital or health center.

Say ‘no’ to indiscriminate fogging

Another way to kill mosquito larvae is by using chemicals such as larvicides or by spraying, fogging, or misting with insectides. Doligon, however, recommends to only do fogging if there is a dengue outbreak.

Use mosquito repellants

May it be day or night, Doligon prescribes wearing an insect repellant to shun mosquitoes. The repellant comes in several forms, such as lotion, spray, or stickers.

Natural essential oils like citronella may protect the skin from mosquitoes, but only for a short time.

Among the mosquito-repellent products in the market, Nature Guard is the one that provides six to eight hours of protection against dengue, malaria, and Zika mosquitoes.

Founded by Philip Sebastian "Basti" Belmonte and Joshua Emmanuel Coliangco Tan, Nature Guard anti-mosquito spray is a safe and effective, non-DEET insect repellant. It comes in three variants: unscented, verbena, and chamomile, which all have been formulated with IR3535, a tested insect repellant that has been used in Europe for over three decades with excellent safety records.

N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, also known as diethyltoluamide or DEET, is the most common active ingredient in most insect repellants. Although effective, DEET is a toxic chemical and is considered an insecticide, so its prolonged use can be harmful to both humans and the environment.

As an alternative, scientists created Ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate (IR3535), an effective and safer, nature-inspired solution against insects like mosquitoes. IR3535 is a registered trademark of of Merck KGaA.

The French Ministry of Health recommended it for use by pregnant women and children during a recent Chikungunya outbreak. It is one of the repellants recommended by the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention, as well as by World Health Organization (WHO), for protection against mosquitoes carrying dengue, Zika, and malaria. An evaluation by WHO stated that if used properly, IR3535 is unlikely to pose any long-term risk to humans and to the environment.

According to non-government organization InterHealth Worldwide, the first ever dengue haemorrhagic fever epidemic in the world was recorded in Manila in 1953. By the mid-’70s, dengue had become a significant cause of death and hospitalization among Filipino children. Rapid urbanization and poor sanitation in places like Payatas are the culprits for the continuous spread of mosquito-borne epidemics, says the DoH.

At 6.1 hectares, the garbage dumpsite in Payatas is the biggest in the Philippines, threatening the lives of its residents, including approximately 120,000 young children.

For every two Nature Guard bottles purchased, one bottle will be given for free to a poor family in Payatas, Manila and other urban poor communities. Nature Guard insect repellents were already distributed for free to Payatas families.

Christmas is all about giving and Christmas is for children. By supporting products with a cause like Nature Guard, you can help spread the holiday cheer all year round for more children in poor communities like Payatas through pioneering social initiatives like The MEALenium Project.

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