With the recent declaration of a National Dengue Alert by Health Secretary Francisco T Duque III, we focus on how to keep your family safe from the viral disease. As of June 29, a total of 106,630 cases of dengue have been recorded nationwide, an 85% increase versus same period in 2018.
The DOH’s 4S strategy, said to be the most effective way to prevent dengue, prescribes the following actions:
- Search and destroy mosquito breeding places
- Self-protective measures like wearing long sleeves and use of insect repellant
- Seek early consultation on the first signs and symptoms of the disease, and
- Say yes to fogging if there is an impending outbreak.
Using insect repellants is one of the recommended protective measure, so let’s take a good look at the kind of insect repellants that can help keep you and your family dengue-free. The big question with insect repellants is what to choose: commercial or natural/organic?
While there are many brands available in the market, the increased awareness on toxic ingredients raises concerns on the long-term health effects of commercial products. One of the active ingredients is DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), which is widely-used in many repellant products against mosquitoes and ticks.
Applied directly on the skin, DEET makes it difficult for bugs to detect human smell and land on skin or clothing. Having been proven to effectively repel disease-carrying insects, DEET-based insect repellants “offer the best protection against mosquito bites”, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
As an alternative to using commercial insect repellants, there are several natural solutions including
- Essential oils anti-mosquito spray
- Citronella, whose smell is avoided by mosquitoes
- Tea tree oil or melaleuca, is toxic for insects
- Vanilla extract
- Marigold plant, with repellant and insecticidal properties
- Lemon eucalyptus oil, is used as repellent since the 1940s
- Oil and fragrance from crushed lavender flowers
- Cinnamon oil which not only repels mosquitoes but also kills its eggs
- Thyme oil has a high protection rate, based on clinical studies
- Soybean oil
- Geraniol, a type of alcohol from plant oils of citronella, lemongrass and rose
Keep yourself and your loved ones protected from dengue-carrying mosquitoes. You have the option to use anti-mosquito lotions and your choices are varied as well, be it the commercially available or organic insect repellants.
 Department of Health. [2019, July]. Duque declares National Dengue Alert in selected regions. Retrieved from https://www.doh.gov.ph/press-release/Duque-declares-national-dengue-alert-in-selected-regions
 Interlandi, J. [2019, April]. How Safe is Deet? Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/insect-repellent/how-safe-is-deet-insect-repellent-safety/
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [n.d.]. Fight the Bite for Protection from Malaria Guidelines for DEET Insect Repellent Use. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/toolkit/DEET.pdf
 Clark, J. [n.d.]. Repel Insects Naturally: 20 Natural Insect Repellent Recipes and Tips. Retrieved from https://www.tipsbulletin.com/natural-insect-repellent/