Over 8,630 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Singapore since the beginning of 2019, and the incidence of this unpleasant disease is expected to rise even higher. Be prepared, and don’t be one of the unlucky ones.
What is dengue fever?
It’s a severe, flu-like illness that’s transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito.
What does an Aedes mosquito look like?
It has black and white stripes on its body.
What are the symptoms?
It usually takes four to seven days before a person infected with the virus starts to show symptoms. They might experience a sudden onset of fever (which can last for up to seven days). This can be accompanied by headaches, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and a rash.
Can dengue fever be life-threatening?
Severe infections can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which causes bleeding and can result in death. However, statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) claim that dengue haemorrhagic fever represented less than one percent of the 21,000 officially reported cases in Singapore between 2000 and 2004.
Is it infectious?
No, not person-to-person. The virus is passed on to humans only when they are bitten by an infective female Aedes mosquito; likewise, the mosquito generally acquire the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person.
What should I do if I think I have dengue fever?
Visit a doctor, rest and drink plenty of fluids. Try to stay away from areas where there are mosquitoes, to avoid being bitten and thus spreading the virus to other people. If you develop severe pain or persistent vomiting, go to a hospital immediately.
Can I be immunised against it?
No. However, there are four strains of the virus here in Singapore; having been infected by one usually gives lifelong immunity to only that type, but only short-term immunity to the others.
What’s the best prevention?
Avoid getting bitten. Apply insect repellent before you enter areas where there are mosquitoes. On alternate days, remove water from flowerpots, vases, toilet brush holders and empty anything that stores or collects water outside; stagnant water is where mosquitoes breed. If you are going on holidays, put the lid of the toilet down.
When’s the peak season for dengue fever in Singapore?
We are in the peak dengue season in Singapore, which usually stretches from June to October, and the region around us is similarly seeing an upsurge of dengue cases this year.
Where are the dengue ‘clusters’ in Singapore now?
Here are some ways you can prevent dengue fever:
- Ensure there is no stagnant water in or around your home. Clear gutters, empty flowerpot plates, change the water in vases, keep buckets over turned.
- Apply insect repellent, even when you’re indoors.
- Spray insecticide in dark corners, under the beds, behind sofas – anywhere you’re likely to find mosquitoes.
- Cap bamboo pole holders, if any.
- Make sure window and door screens are free of holes.
If, in spite of your best efforts, you notice the following flu-like symptoms of dengue fever, it’s best to see your doctor:
- Sudden high fever
- Severe headaches
- Pain behind the eyes
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- A rash on the skin that appears two to five days after the fever
Statistics: Ministry of Health Singapore & National Environment Agency
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