For the first time in Philippine history, the Department of Health (DOH) placed the country on national alert due to the rapidly increasing number of dengue cases. Public awareness about the signs and symptoms of dengue fever and prevention is now being implemented across the country.
However, the Facebook post that says coconut oil can prevent dengue fever is a hoax and should not be shared. Coconut oil has a lot of benefits, but preventing dengue is not one of them, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), International Vaccine Institute, and the University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) in an AFP report.
The false claim asks people to “use coconut oil below your knees till your footsteps. It is an antibiotic. And a dengue mosquito can not fly higher than knees.” It allegedly comes from a doctor in India, whose name and hospital affiliation is indicated at the bottom. The post, which has surfaced on social media platforms since 2016, is likely making the rounds again because of the dengue national alert.
“‘Coconut oil is not an antibiotic. There is no evidence to show that it can prevent or cure dengue,” Dr. Gawrie Loku Galappaththy, medical officer with the Malaria and other Vectorborne and Parasitic Diseases from WHO Philippines told AFP.
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Dr. Edsel Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the UP-NIH, explained that while coconut oil “have some antimicrobial properties,” no clinical studies have been done to prove it’s effective against an active infection. “It cannot be used to prevent dengue,” he stressed.
“Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infection, not for viral infection [which dengue is],” added Dr. Ann Wartel from the International Vaccine Institute.
While dengue-infected mosquitoes generally fly low and feed or bite during the day, to say that they cannot fly higher than the knees is inaccurate and ludicrous.
Kids ages 9 and younger are more prone to acquiring dengue fever. If you suspect your child has dengue, don’t wait of severe symptoms to appear. Take your child to the hospital immediately. Doctors can treat and manage the symptoms of dengue fever until the viral infection runs its course. These dengue symptoms include:
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sudden recurring high fever
pain around the eyes
bleeding of the gums and nose
severe abdominal pain
Eliminate all mosquito breeding sites in your home. The DOH also reminds parents that the most effective way to prevent dengue is the “4S strategy.”
Search and destroy mosquito breeding places.
Self-protective measures like long sleeves and the use of insect repellent.
Seek early consultation on the first signs and symptoms of the disease and
Say yes to fogging if there is an impending outbreak.
Additional preventive measures include letting your child wear pants or jammies and long-sleeved clothes when going out, and using anti-mosquito repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR 3535, or lemon eucalyptus oil.