Dengue: Who is winning the war… Virus or Sri Lanka?
Therefore, on average the number of people who are harbouring the virus on any day is:
Yearly Total / 365 x 7
In the case of the year 2016 it is 54,000 / 365 x 7 = 1,036
We can use this method to estimate the “size” of the dengue infection from year to year.
The next question we need to pay attention to is the nature of the virusWe generally consider a virus to be an insignificant and delicate bit of microscopic matter. But there is another way of looking at viruses. Let’s take the dengue virus for example. It is true that Individually the dengue virus is small and insignificant. However if we consider all of the dengue viruses present in Sri Lanka at any time as one entity then it is a very powerful creature.
A virus is also very smartThe virus particle consists of only what can be considered the brain of the organism. It has no “body” as such. It has no mouth or stomach or lungs. It uses other living things to grow and multiply. It does not have to eat and drink like other creatures to grow. It uses the metabolic processes of living cells to multiply using the resources of the cell. Naturally other creatures don’t like this and would try to get rid of the virus and mount an attack. If the host organism succeeds the virus would die. If the host organism loses it would die and the virus would also die with it. Therefore in either case the virus would die. Therefore, the virus has to find a means of getting to another organism if it wants to live.
How to beat dengueBy looking at the dengue epidemic in this manner we can easily understand how we can beat dengue. If we take the case of 1992, on average there were only 13 persons carrying the dengue virus in the whole of Sri Lanka. Of course, it was not the same 13 people for the whole year. As one person got better (or died) a different person took his/her place and the 13 people affected moved along. Now if we looked at the later years, the number of people carrying the virus got bigger and bigger and by 2017, on average, 2,961 people carry the virus at any moment. It must be remembered that the virus can only live in a human or mosquito. If we stopped the virus from hopping from one human to another the dengue monster cannot grow bigger. In 1992 if we protected the 13 infected people from the bite of mosquitoes the dengue monster would have died out.
What is required to control dengue is common sense and political will.
Dr Lal Jayasinghe