Here’s what you need to know about dengue fever.
We have entered the warmer months of the year (June to October), which is typically the peak season for dengue in Singapore. Find out all you need to know about dengue and how you can protect you and your child from being infected.
How Dengue Spreads
One thing to note about dengue is that it does not spread directly from person to person. Instead, it is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. “Dengue spreads when an Aedes mosquito bites a dengue-infected person, becomes infected, and subsequently transmits the virus when it bites another person,” explains Dr Chan Poh Chong, head and senior consultant, Division of General Ambulatory Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, National University Hospital.
There are four types of dengue viruses. If a person has been infected with one of the four viruses and subsequently recovers from it, he will become immune to that particular virus. However, the recovered person is still susceptible to being infected with the other three viruses.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Dengue fever usually develops within four to seven days after being bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito. According to Dr Chan, the symptoms of dengue include high fever accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
These symptoms usually last for two to seven days.
How is Dengue Treated?
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for dengue. Instead, treatment for dengue is supportive, which means you will receive treatment to relieve the symptoms. Dr Chan also advises patients to ensure they hydrate themselves regularly.
If you suspect that you have been infected by an Aedes mosquito, it is important you seek medical attention immediately because complications may develop if the symptoms of dengue are left untreated.
“Severe dengue is potentially deadly due to plasma leakage, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ damage. These consequences may occur three to seven days after the first symptoms appear,” says Dr Chan.
What You Can Do
Protecting you and your children against dengue is vital. Here are some tips to lower the risk of infection:
Prevent Breeding of the Aedes Mosquito
The Aedes mosquito tends to breed in clean, stagnant water, such as flower pots, buckets, and toilet tanks. An easy way to prevent the Aedes mosquito from breeding in your home is by practising the National Environment Agency’s 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout. Remove stagnant water by:
1. Turning the pail
2. Tipping the vase
3. Flipping the flower pot plate
4. Loosening the hardened soil
5. Clearing the roof gutter and placing Bti insecticide
Don’t Let the Aedes Mosquito Come Near
Dr Chan suggests wearing long sleeves and pants, spraying mosquito repellent or placing a repellent patch on your clothes, especially if you and/or your children are heading outside.
You may also consider having you and your child vaccinated against dengue. There is now a dengue vaccine, known as Dengvaxia, that has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority for those aged 12 to 45 years. “The vaccine is more effective for those who have had previous dengue infection. We therefore advise individuals who are considering the vaccine to consult their doctors on the benefits and risks of the vaccine,” says Dr Chan.