Currently, in Singapore more and more cases of Dengue are starting to appear. But what is Dengue? How do we know if we or our children have it? And how can we prevent it?
In this article we are going to answer all your questions!
This graphic from the NEA website shows the number of dengue cases in Singapore at the moment:
As we can see, there is a significant peak since the last weeks, with 468 reported cases in Singapore.
Map of Singapore where dengue cases are the most present (Geylang, Woodlands, Serangoon, near of Warren golf course etc...)
What is dengue?
Dengue fever, also known as "breakbone fever", is a virus which Aedes mosquitoes transmit to human beings. The dengue virus is currently progressing very significantly, and is now considered as a "re-emerging" disease.
Dengue fever is mostly present in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world and in the north of Australia: therefore Singapore is impacted by the virus.
8 crucial facts:
- It is possible to be affected by dengue more than once
- Classic dengue is considered as a minor illness
- There are no remedies against dengue fever nor hemorrhagic fever
- There are no vaccines that can prevent the virus
- Most patients recover within 2 weeks
- Dengue is not transmitted from one human being to another
- Younger children and people who suffer the virus for the first time are less affected by the virus
- According to the CDC, approximately 75% of all dengue infections do not present any symptoms whatsoever. Around 20% are classic symptoms. On the other hand, 5% of people will develop severe symptoms that are life threatening (Hemorrhagic dengue fever)
The incubation period of dengue is usually 3 to 7 days but can go up to 14 days.
Classic Dengue fever
- The first symptom is the appearance of a strong fever which is often accompanied with:
- A headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint and muscle pain
- Rashes resembling those of measles
- After 3 or 4 days, you are likely to feel a bit better, only giving you the time to take a breath, but from there on, the symptoms intensify: you are going to suffer from conjunctival hemorrhages, nose bleeds and even ecchymosis but will disappear rapidly after a week.
- The healing process comes with a convalescence of 2 weeks. Classic Dengue, even if it weakens you a lot, is not considered a severe disease unlike Dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Hemorrhagic dengue fever
For some patients, for reasons that we are not aware of, the virus can evolve into 2 serious forms: Hemorrhagic Dengue fever and Dengue fever with shock syndrome which is fatal. Especially in children under 15 years old, hypovolemic shock can occur (cooling, wet skin and imperceptible pulse signaling blood circulatory failure). In this case you should be hospitalised as fast as possible.
This serious form of dengue remains rare and represents approximately 5% of Dengue cases worldwide.
Although it is important to note that even patients which are affected by classic dengue can still develop a Hemorrhagic Dengue fever.
Dengue fever with the warning signs of severe dengue requires emergency treatment and hospitalisation, as several hemorrhages can occur, including gastrointestinal, cutaneous and cerebral.
The warning signs of a severe Dengue are:
- A persistent fever
- Constant vomiting, but also vomiting blood
- Spots or red patches on the skin
- Blach stools which can be tearful or irritable
- Skin which is moist, pale or cold
- Difficulties to breath
What should you do when you think you have Dengue ?
Make an appointment with your GP immediately.
Dengue will be confirmed by a blood test, accurate and fast. This test is crucial in order to confirm the etiology, both for your care and for public health surveillance systems to launch the alert.
There are no antiviral treatments for the dengue virus.
Nevertheless, there are 3 important things you need to do:
- Take a doliprane or paracetamol in order to control the fever and relieve the pain. Do not use aspirin or Ibuprofen
- REST! Be sure to rest as much as possible
- Drink a lot to prevent being dehydrated
How to avoid the Dengue virus?
As dengue is an illness which is transmitted by mosquitoes, preventing dengue is as simple as preventing mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
- Treat clothes with repellents like permethrin.
- Use EPA-registered mosquito repellent like DEET. Apply it on the skin and/or clothing. Do not apply under clothing.
- If you also use sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and mosquito spray second.
- When using sprays, never spray directly on the face. Apply it first on your hands, then apply it on your face. Wash your hands afterwards.
- Consider using mosquito netting.
- Avoid areas with standing water (example: the MacRitchie Reservoir), especially at times of high mosquito activity like dawn and dusk.
Additional tips for kids and babies:
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin
For even more information you can visit this website: National Health Agency
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