Dengue and Fogging in Southeast Asia
Escaping winter in tropical Asia is cheap and fun, but dengue and toxic fogging are two things I least like about my tropical island paradise. I remember them fogging when I was a kid living in Miami long ago, but now that we are on a serious health journey and eating super healthy, I spend all my spare time reading up on health and how to stay healthier, so these things concern me.
No matter where you live, we all deal with many more cumulative toxins in our daily lives. Reading books like "The Hundred-Year Lie" by investigative journalist Randal Fitzgerald and "Detoxify or Die" by Dr. Sherry Rogers M.D. and others, has made me more aware of just how bad our environment is and how it is affecting everyone's health and quality of life. Just because you don't get sick immediately, doesn't mean it is not a problem.
WHAT IS DENGUE FEVER?
Dengue is a flu-like viral disease spread by infected mosquitoes and occurs in most tropical parts of the world including the U.S.( primarily Florida, along the Texas/Mexico border and southern part of the country). There is no treatment for Dengue and a complication called Dengue hemorrhagic fever can be very serious or ( like all flu) even fatal.
Dengue is common in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia, and the Caribbean. According to WHO reports, dengue has been on the increase in Southeast Asia, despite the regions efforts to combat the mosquito-borne disease. One finds it in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Phillippines, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, China and more.
HOW TO PREVENT DENGUE
The best way to avoid it is to avoid all mosquito bites. Interestingly, not ONE Penang apartment that we have seen or lived in has had screens on the windows. which seems quite common in tropical Asia and even Tahiti ( where dengue is also prominent). Since the Mayo clinic listed screens on all windows as one of the best preventatives, this does seem strange.
I think it helps to live on a high floor in a breezy area near the sea, as we have had windows open day and night ( we close when lights go on) in our 20 months here and almost never get mosquito bites.( If one doesn't open windows and doors here, one tends to get mold/mildew problems.)
Dengue mosquitoes bite during the day, so dawn and dusk are the time for most precaution. Because our daughter is always out during the dawn to go to her Chinese school, we always use an all natural, organic mosquito repellent ( even though she complains it is stinky). We do not use Deet ( due to it's dangers) and avoid as many toxic chemicals that we can. I haven't tried this natural Dengue homeopathic prevention and cure but it is the type of thing I would try if I suspected one of us was exposed.
I think the BEST prevention for ANY disease is to have a healthy immune system, which comes from making good organic food choices with things like daily bone broth, kefir, raw pastured eggs, fermented foods like salsa and mayo,and more. I think these eating strategies to cure a cold or flu, also will help prevent Dengue and other viruses. If one should get it, then being as healthy as possible should make it less severe with a quick recovery compared to a person eating lots of sugar and processed foods that weaken the body and immune system.
IS FOGGING SAFE?
The people selling it and governments using it ( including in USA) will tell you it is safe, but I don't think that is true. Sometimes you get warning signs here to stay indoors and close windows ( which we always try to do), but often there is no notice since it goes on so much and the wind spreads it, and I have often seen children playing in this toxic fog. Ugh.
"Pesticides have been associated with the development of certain cancers in children, including leukemia, sarcomas, and brain tumors. Many classes of pesticides have been shown to adversely affect the developing nervous system of experimental animals. Parental exposure to pesticides has been linked
with birth defects in children. New studies suggest that pesticides may compromise the immune system of infants and children". - Journal of Environmental Health
Even Mozart got stuck in it one time when the fogging started when she was out playing, but she knew to cover her face and come in immediately. The other kids remained playing in it. I felt horrible and heart sick about it or every time I see kids in it. I once watched a mom with 4 kids that looked under five in it, with two in a stroller and wondered how it would affect their lives.
"Impairment of the immune system by chemical pesticides can lead to allergies, auto immune disorders such as lupus, and cancer. It may also lead to infections to which one may be normally resistant." World Resources Institute
DANGERS FROM FOGGING
Penang only approves one substance for mosquito fogging and it is called Resigen. It contains Permethrin , S-Bioallethrin and Piperonyl butoxide. This seemed to be an honest take on the dangers of fogging .
A Center review of the past 10 years’ worth of more than 90,000 adverse-reaction reports, filed with the EPA by pesticide manufacturers, found that pyrethrins and pyrethroids together accounted for more than 26 percent of all fatal, “major,” and “moderate” human incidents in the United States in 2007, up from 15 percent in 1998. Although the number of fatalities was low — about 20 from 2003 to 2007 — the amount of moderate and serious incidents attributed to the group — more than 6,000 — is significantly greater than any other class of insecticide.- The Center for Public Integrity
Considering that these are sprayed at least weekly here ( and sometimes several times during the week) in surrounding areas that we can view from our high floor, the possible toxic levels are pretty scary.
"It’s important to remember that your public health and safety organizations are taking their information from the EPA, FDA and the manufacturers of the chemicals. You are not getting the truth. The goal of chemical manufacturers is to keep their chemicals on the market so they make money, not to protect the consumer and unfortunately the EPA and FDA are in their pocket. They hold out on listing the toxicity of a product until their hand is forced, they are often only concerned with whether a chemical causes cancer, when cancer is only one possible effect of toxicity." Cynthia Perkins M. Ed.
( This quote is about USA, but I think it holds true for most countries as not enough people are paying attention to these problems until it is too late. If anything, the laws in developing countries tend to be even more lacking in environmental ways).
ARE THESE PESTICIDES SAFE?
PERMETHRIN is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide and neurotoxin. It is more acutely toxic to children than to adults. They are now used in thousands of consumer products from Raid Ant and Roach Killer to Hartz Dog Flea & Tick Killer. These chemicals are also found in bug-repellant clothing, automatic misting devices, lawn-care products, and carpet sprays.
Piperonyl butoxide ( PBO) is listed as a suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicant and neurotoxicant by the National Institude for Occupational Safety and Health as well as a suspected carcinogen by the EPA's Office of Pesticide Program.
S-Bioallethrin is also a pyrethroid pesticide and listed on the EPA's BAD For Our Brain list.
These pesticides are very dangerous on their own, but working together they are even more powerful, with long term affects to all living things they reach.
"Despite manufacturers’ assurances of safety, scientists have begun to pay closer attention to the effects of pyrethrins and pyrethroids on children. A team of researchers from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and the CDC published a study in 2006 that found even children fed an exclusively organic diet had pyrethroid metabolites in their systems after their parents had used pyrethroid pesticides in their homes" 'Safe" Pesticides now first in poisoning
NO EASY ANSWERS
Really, no matter where you live today, there are no easy answers, but it helps to be more aware so one can avoid as many toxins as possible. We've always tried to keep pesticide and toxic chemical exposure down as much as possible, partly by eating organic food, not doing any vaccines and also using natural products like DIY shampoo, tooth paste, cleaning supplies and even homemade deodorant.
We "shut down" our tropical home at the first sign of fogging and keep it closed. They tend to do it here in Penang around 5 or 6 pm, so as much possible, we try to be inside during those hours,especially on Thursday when we know they spray nearby. It smells horrible like a very strong poison, but we hope and pray we are avoding as much as we can and usually can't smell it when everything is locked down.
I've read that it is good to stay in at least 12 hours after the fogging and we do that as we are usually inside at night anyway with things closed down until bed time ( and all night on those nights) and also have adopted the custom here of not wearing shoes inside to not track any in. Hmm, maybe we will swtich to closed windows every night.
PARENTING IN A TOXIC WORLD
How about you? How to do you handle worries about living in our toxic world and dealing with things like Dengue or fogging?