Still from video of an Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre team member using control measures against mosquitoes, flies and other pests
Still from video of an Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre team member using control measures against mosquitoes, flies and other pests Image Credit: Screengrab/X

Abu Dhabi: With the end of winter and the beginning of summer, many types of fever spread among people due to the changing weather, but one of the most dangerous is dengue fever. This illness often spreads near the end of winter or after a rainy season due to the spread of mosquitoes and the presence of stagnant water in some areas after rain.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

At the beginning and end of each season, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issues guidance about the danger of these types of fevers, their symptoms and causes, and how to protect ourselves from their spread.

What is dengue fever?
WHO explains that dengue is a viral infection that spreads from mosquitoes to people. It is more common in tropical and subtropical climates. Most people who get dengue won’t have symptoms. But for those that do, the most common symptoms are high fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash. Most will also get better in one to two weeks. Some people develop severe dengue and need care in a hospital. If symptoms occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after infection and last for two to seven days.

Abu Dhabi’s efforts

Last week, which saw heavy rains in Abu Dhabi and other parts of the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) launched an awareness campaign to help residents understand how they can keep their immediate environment free of mosquitoes and pests.

Dr Ahmed Al Khazraji

The Centre also informed residents of the steps that are being taken in the emirate to ensure the safety of all members of society. Dr Ahmed Al Khazraji, Acting Director-General of ADPHC, said: “At ADPHC we continue to take all preventive and precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of all members of the society in the emirate. We have developed and activated and integrated plan to monitor and combat mosquitoes and flies in residential areas, farms and estates in the emirate following the weather condition that the country witnessed recently.”

He explained that the efforts included examining and treating more than 17,000 watershed sites and valleys and more than 30,000 stormwater drains in addition to inspection visits and treatment services at more than 2,300 farms and estates, more than 150 parks and more than 2,000 construction sites. “We used vacuum, biological, and physical control and pesticides tailored to the nature of the pests spreading as well as smart traps to ensure that these pests are controlled according to best practices.”

The Centre advised residents to take proactive steps to remove any stagnant water indoors to prevent breeding grounds for pests and mold growth. Additionally, residents have also been encouraged to inform the appropriate authorities about stagnant water in their vicinity, as it can pose health and safety hazards to the community.

For Abu Dhabi residents, Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has provided their Emergency and Crisis Management Office hotline number (993), where issues such as water accumulation can be reported, along with other weather-related reports, like fallen trees or streetlights.

read more

Protecting children

Also, as children are more likely to be exposed to bites from mosquitoes and other pests when they spending time playing outdoors, especially after a rainy spell, it is important to understand how to deal with the issue.

Dr Iman Khalaf, a general physician at HealthPlus Family Medicine Clinics in Abu Dhabi, who holds an international membership in the British Royal College of Family Medicine, has provided several studies and general information about insect bites in children and ways to deal with them.

Dr Iman Khalaf

“Insect stings are considered normal in most cases, and a condition that most people are exposed to without any worry about complications. However, they may require medical intervention in some cases,” she said.

Dr Iman explained that it is the signs and symptoms associated with insect sting infection that parents must pay attention to. The effects are related to the type of insects themselves, as it may be a simple sting, such as the bite of mosquitoes, flies, or bed bugs, and causes mild symptoms such as redness and itching, while the sting of bees, wasps, and some types of spiders is more severe, which requires consulting a doctor or even going to the emergency department.

In some cases, insect bites may be followed by a bacterial infection, especially if the bite is scratched excessively and the wounds are left open without treatment and appear in the form of heat and sticky yellow discharge at the site of the bite. If a bacterial infection is suspected, this should never be neglected, especially when there is a high temperature and a feeling of general weakness in the body.

Other stings may develop to more serious levels, such as difficulty breathing and swelling of the tongue and lips. These are severe allergic symptoms that require a visit to the emergency department to evaluate and treat the condition in a timely manner.

Dr Iman stressed that the appearance of symptoms in a child when he is exposed to an insect bite, such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, unusual skin rashes, dizziness, severe headaches, or fainting, are indicators that require consulting a healthcare provider directly without any delay.

She noted that there is a group of children who suffer from allergic reactions to insect bites more than others, such as children with hypersensitivity, children with chronic diseases, young children and infants, which requires parents to exercise the utmost caution and caution, follow the instructions of caregivers, and transport their child directly to the hospital when signs of severe allergy appear.


Regarding ways to prevent insect bites, Dr Iman explained that household insects can be avoided by following some hygiene and care practices inside the home, such as periodic ventilation and regularly checking furniture, curtains, and hidden places to ensure that there are no bed bugs or any other insects.

As for external insects, you can wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible and avoid wearing perfumes and brightly coloured clothes that may attract some types of insects when visiting places where insects are abundant.

Dr Iman also stressed of the necessity of consulting a doctor before travelling to some destinations that are known to witness the spread of some diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, in order to obtain appropriate recommendations, and perhaps pre-travel vaccinations to protect individuals’ health.

Dengue symptoms

• high fever (40°C/104°F)

• severe headache

• pain behind the eyes

• muscle and joint pains

• nausea

• vomiting

• swollen glands

• rash

• bleeding in gums, urine or stool, etc.

• a decrease in white blood cells

• a decrease in platelets

If you get dengue, it’s important to:

• rest

• drink plenty of liquids

• use acetaminophen (paracetamol) for pain

• avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin; and

• watch for severe symptoms and contact your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any.

So far one vaccine (QDenga) has been approved and licensed in some countries. However, it is recommended only for the age group of six to 16 years in high transmission settings. Several additional vaccines are under evaluation.

Prevention and control

The mosquitoes that spread dengue are active during the day. Lower the risk of getting dengue by protecting yourself from mosquito bites by using:

• clothes that cover as much of your body as possible.

• mosquito nets if sleeping during the day, ideally nets sprayed with insect repellent.

• window screens.

• mosquito repellents (containing DEET, Picaridin or IR3535); and

• coils and vaporisers

Mosquito breeding can be prevented by:

• preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats by environmental management and modification.

• disposing of solid waste properly and removing artificial man-made habitats that can hold water.

• covering, emptying and cleaning domestic water storage containers on a weekly basis.

• applying appropriate insecticides to outdoor water storage containers.