dengue fever in Sri Lanka
A recent epidemic of dengue fever in Sri Lanka has inspired one of the most unlikely sectors of society to innovatively combat the disease that infects between 50 and 100 million people globally every year.

Sri Lanka’s national newspaper, Mawbima, worked in conjunction with Leo Burnett to create the world’s first mosquito repellent newspaper. By combining ink with natural citronella essence, readers were able to reduce the risk of being bitten while educating themselves on current events.

The population reads the newspaper mostly in the early morning and in the evening. Because the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that transmits dengue is a daytime feeder, these are the times when they are most active.

Dengue fever causes an intense fever along with other symptoms such as severe headaches, nausea, pain behind the eyes or muscle and joint pains. Severe dengue is the more dangerous version of dengue fever, which can be lethal if not properly dealt with by professional medical care.

In many areas of the world, receiving professional medical care is not affordable or accessible for those in remote areas or those living in poverty. Prevention is a more cost effective way of addressing dengue fever.

Prevention of dengue fever is also vital because there is currently no vaccine or treatment, despite the increase of incidence worldwide in recent decades. In 2013, 30,000 Sri Lankans contracted dengue fever, which is considered “epidemic proportions.”

For National Dengue Week, several actions were taken to bring awareness to the disease. The citronella ink was used on large advertisements at bus stops to prevent those waiting for the bus from being bitten. When the paper was released, it contained articles on how to prevent dengue fever and even included repellent patches for schoolchildren to wear.

The innovative paper was so popular, it sold out by 10a.m., increasing sales by 30%. Not only was the risk of contracting dengue fever reduced, readership increased by 300,000, allowing the public to be both safe and well-informed.

Kim Tierney

Sources: CDC, Huffington Post, The Daily Star, IFL Science, World Health Organization
Photo: Black Tomatoe