What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted through mosquito bites. It is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical regions such as Singapore . Dengue fever can occur when someone is bitten by a mosquito that is exposed with the dengue virus transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti (which have black and white stripes on their legs). It is worth knowing that the virus cannot be transmitted directly from person-to-person.
What are some of the symptoms?
- Bone, muscle and joint pain
- Rash (usually 3-4 days after fever starts)
- A high temperature (fever) that can reach as high as 41C (105.8F)
- Vomiting may also occur.
The fever usually lasts for 2–7 days but there may be lingering fatigue. It is important to watch for signs of bleeding such as: bleeding gums, bruising, upper abdominal pain and etc.
The disease can be diagnosed via blood tests. It is worth noting that there are four different strains for the dengue virus. Despite fully recovering from one strain, you can contract another strain if they are not careful.
What are some of the ways I can prevent contracting dengue fever?
As of today, there is no vaccine that can prevent individuals from contracting dengue. The only thing individuals can do right now is to take safety precautions. Some safety precautions include:
- Use screens on doors and windows in the home and nets over cribs/beds
- Insect repellents – preferably those containing DEET
- Stay indoors as much as possible when mosquitoes are out: sunrise, sunset and early evening
- Avoid perfumes, cologne and wearing dark clothing as mosquitoes are attracted to them
- Avoid having stagnant water at home.
- Try and utilize air-conditioning – mosquitoes prefer warmer temperatures
Are there any remedies for dengue fever?
Currently, there is no treatment for dengue, the patient usually recovers after 1-2 weeks. Remedies include drinking plenty of fluids, taking paracetamol as well as having sufficient rest. People who’ve contracted the disease would have to visit the hospital if they develop signs of dehydration.
What is Dengue hemorrhagic fever
This is a serious complication that only occurs in rare cases, where bleeding starts to occur and a sudden drop in blood pressure may follow. There is a greater chance of this happening where there has been a precious infection with a different strain of dengue fever.
Is there vaccination available?
Luckily, there is a vaccination that can be used to prevent all four strains of dengue. It is recommended that individuals aged between 12 to 45 years old and have contracted the disease before to receive the vaccine. A total of three doses would be required. The second and third dose are administered after 6 and 12 months after receiving the initial dose.
Some side-effects include injection site pain, muscle ache, mild fever as well as headaches. It is worth noting that individuals who have never contracted dengue cannot receive the vaccine.
Do bear in mind that the vaccination cannot be administered to anyone who has fever or is unwell, pregnant women as well women who are breastfeeding, those who have weak immune system e.g. people suffering from AIDS and those who are allergic to the vaccine.
Dr Colin Koh graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1984. He has been a family doctor and healthcare administrator in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Vietnam and Indonesia. Dr Koh set up a Wellness and Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi and is member of the American Anti-Aging Academy of Medicine.
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