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close this bookFact sheet No 117: Dengue and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever - Revised November 1998 (WHO, 1998, 3 p.)
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Prevention and Control

At present, the only method of controlling or preventing dengue and DHF is to combat the vector mosquitoes. In Asia and the Americas, Aedes aegypti breeds primarily in man-made containers like earthenware jars, metal drums and concrete cisterns used for domestic water storage, as well as discarded plastic food containers, used automobile tyres and other items that collect rainwater In Africa it also breeds extensively in natural habitats such as tree holes and leaf axils. In recent years, Aedes albopictus, a secondary dengue vector in Asia, has become established in the United States and several Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as two European and one African state. The rapid geographic spread of this species has been largely attributed to the international trade in used tyres.

Vector control is implemented using environmental management and chemical methods. Proper solid waste disposal and improved water storage practices, including covering containers to prevent access by egg laying female mosquitoes are among methods which are encouraged through community-based programmes. The application of appropriate insecticides to larval habitats, particularly those which are considered useful by the householders, e.g. water storage vessels, prevent mosquito breeding for several weeks but must be re-applied periodically. Small, mosquito-eating fish have also been used with some success. During outbreaks, emergency control measures may also include the application of insecticides as space sprays to kill adult mosquitoes using portable or truck-mounted machines or even aircraft. However, the killing effect is only transient, variable in its effectiveness because the aerosol droplets may not penetrate indoors to microhabitats where adult mosquitoes are sequestered, and the procedure is costly and operationally very demanding. Regular monitoring of the vectors' susceptibility to the most widely used insecticides is necessary to ensure the appropriate choice of chemicals. Active monitoring and surveillance of the natural mosquito population should accompany control efforts in order to determine the impact of the programme.