Mosquito-repellent newspaper protects readers from dengue

Mosquito-repellent newspaper protects readers from dengue
A Sri Lankan auto-rickshaw driver reads a Sunday newspaper in Colombo on August 3, 2008.

NEW DELHI - A Sri Lanka publisher plans to put out a special newspaper issue this month that will act as a "mosquito repellent." The paper will be printed using ink mixed with insect-repelling oil and will carry an article on how to prevent dengue fever, a disease spread by mosquitoes.

The special issue will be published by the Sinhalese-language daily Mawbima, which is published in Colombo.

Mawbima has printed prototype papers using ink with oil from citronella, a plant in the grass family with insect repellent properties, to heighten public interest in dengue. The papers were very popular and sold out immediately.

Citronella smells like lemon and is frequently used in insect-repellent oils and candles in Sri Lanka.

Thushara Gunaratna, the editor in chief, said "We want to use the power of the newspaper, which is read by so many people, to reduce the number of dengue cases." The full-fledged "mosquito repellent" newspaper will be published only once.

"Although it [the repellent] is only effective for a few hours, it's effective in the morning when people reading the papers," he said.

Dengue, an infectious disease that has been unusually prevalent worldwide this year, causes pains in the joints and fevers approaching 40 C for about a week, and sometimes leads to death. This year, 20,000 people in Sri Lanka suffered from dengue fever in the first half of this year. The number of infections is expected to surpass last year's 32,000 cases.

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