We love how sunny Singapore is, but the downside of our island’s tropical climate is that it creates the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. These flying insects are more than just annoying – they can be carriers of dengue, a dangerous illness that has seen a significant increase over the last 50 years.
What is dengue?
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Dengue fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes that can affect people of any age. Some of the symptoms include a sudden fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can appear anywhere from 3-14 days after infection, and although there is no specific treatment, doctors can manage it through early diagnosis.
Dengue is most commonly found in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, with over 70% of cases. In recent years, there has additionally been a significant upswing in cases of dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The risk of dengue is prevalent year-round in Singapore with the NEA reporting an average of 26K cases per year from 2001 to 2010. For 2017, the NEA is reporting a potential increase in dengue cases compared to previous years.
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What’s it like to have dengue?
We spoke with two Singaporean dads who have had the unpleasant experience of contracting the dengue virus.
Johnson Chee, a PE teacher at Guangyang Primary School, contracted dengue just a week before the start of the school holidays. After experiencing a sudden high fever and developing rashes, he visited the hospital where a blood test confirmed that he had dengue. Soon after this confirmation, Chee spent a week confined to the hospital where he was on an IV due to his high fever. Furthermore, contracting dengue led to other health complications.
Benny Ong, a self-employed graphic designer, visited the doctor immediately upon discovering a high fever. The doctor, misdiagnosing Ong, gave him fever medication and told him to go home and rest. A few years later, he was forced to return to the hospital because of the intense pain he was experiencing. The following day, his doctor confirmed that he had contracted dengue.
Both of these men are being more cautious about using insect repellant, especially on their children and are looking for other ways that they can protect themselves and their families from dengue.
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How to prevent dengue
Follow the NEA’s 5-step Mozzie Wipeout
- Change water in vases (or any other standing water) every other day
- Thoroughly scrub flower pot plates on alternate days to remove mosquito eggs.
- Keep potential water storage containers upside down.
- Loosen the soil in potted plants to prevent water accumulating on the surface of the soil.
- Use BTI insecticide in roof gutters to prevent mosquito breeding.
Avoid dengue hotspots and always carry insect repellent
The NEA provides up-to-date info on dengue clusters around the island. Avoid visiting these areas if possible. Whenever visiting parks or walking outside, stay away from drainage areas that may have stagnant water stored in them. Carry mosquito repellent at all times in case you find yourself in a mosquito-infested area. The anti-mosquito patches are a good alternative to mosquito spray which often has a strong smell.
Speak to your physician and educate your family about dengue
Besides your own actions to keep yourself and your family safe from dengue, it is important to teach your kids about dengue prevention and what they can be doing around the house as well.
Check out the full dengue infographic here.
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