Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stopping Dengue, One bottle at a time

Standing in a Sarapiqui street, a group of OTS gringos tried to get a bearing on their surroundings, with clipboards and strange-looking bottles in hand. 
We were dropped off in the middle of a Dengue hotspot, hoping to inform the community of simple preventative methods from this terrible virus.  In our hands were Maynilad's brilliant "Dengue Bottle" inventions, created to trap and kill Dengue-spreading mosquitoes.  Constructed from common household items, the "Dengue Bottle" is a simple fix to a serious problem.  Here's how you make it:
1) Cut off the top part of a plastic bottle and remove the cap.
2) Add brown sugar to warm water and let it dissolve.
3) Pour yeast into the sugar-water solution, and add the solution to the bottle.
4) Cover the bottle in black plastic wrap.
5) Place the top of the bottle back on to the bottle in the inverted direction, and voila, your very own "Dengue Bottle". 
The Philippines Department of Health reported that Dengue cases were reduced by 60% from one year to the next in the Philippines after the introduction of the Dengue contraption.  It seems unbelievable that such easily accessible items can have such a large impact, but it turns out that mosquitoes love the CO2 that the yeast produces, so they fly into the bottle, but then get stuck inside.   
Dengue is a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that causes severe pain, vomiting, and fever, among other symptoms.  There is no current vaccine against dengue, and treatment involves supportive care, lots of hydration, and painkillers such as acetaminophen.  Costa Rican citizens have universal primary healthcare, but that does not mean that they should leave their health simply in the hands of their healthcare workers.  People need to be responsible for their health and take necessary preventive measures, and simple fixes such as solution-filled plastic bottles have saved tens of thousands of lives.
Equipped with water bottles, hats, and "Dengue Bottles", my classmates and I were ready to present our latest DIY to the community and show the locals how to make their own Dengue-fighting bottles. Walking from door to door, we called "OopĆ©" in order to announce our presence and waited to be invited onto the resident's property.  While in New York if a group of strangers showed up with clipboards and suspicious black bottles someone would probably call the police, here in Costa Rica the residents happily invited us into their homes, giving us chairs to sit in, and one woman even let us pick coconuts from her yard!  As we explained how to construct the mosquito traps, we looked like flight attendants giving safety instructions, hand-motioning each of the steps.  The ticos were grateful that we shared our projects with them, and most were committed to utilizing the contraption around their homes.
Today was a gratifying and fun way to share information with the local community and really make a difference.  Hopefully the community uses their Dengue-fighting bottles and this Dengue hotspot won't be hot for much longer.
Rebecca P.
"Maynilad Water Services Inc." Maynilad Water Services Inc. Maynilad, 26 June 2013. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.
"Maynilad Wins Intl Award for DIY Dengue Mosquito Trap." GMA News Online. GMA News Online, 17 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.

Photo 1 Caption:  The "Dengue Bottles"
Photo 2 Caption: Talking with a Sarapiqui resident.  Photo Credit:  Tanya Lobo

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