June to October is peak season in Singapore for dengue fever.
During these warmer months, it is prime breeding season for mosquitos and the dengue virus sees a shorter incubation period, therefore local cases usually spike.
Learn more about what to look for and how to prevent an infection.
What is Dengue?
Dengue is a virus transmitted through mosquitos. It cannot be transmitted from person to person and is prevalent in most tropical climates. Dengue is carried and transmitted through female mosquitos who bite most during the day. Technically, there are 4 different varieties of the virus that make up “dengue” and as such, it can manifest itself quite differently in different cases.
Some people can have a very mild case of dengue where they feel run down and achy while others can end up in the hospital with dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), a more severe form of dengue infection.
What are the symptoms?
The most notable symptoms include high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, and possibly minor bleeding (gums, nose, easy bruising). Symptoms of your first dengue infection (and those in small children) tend to be more mild than in subsequent infections.
DHF is characterized by the above symptoms where the fever lasts from 2-7 days, and when the fever declines, can be accompanied by vomiting, abdominal pain and difficulty breathing. The white blood cells can reach a dangerously low level and hospitalization is critical. In less than 1% of cases, dengue is fatal (usually because treatment was not sought in time).
What should you do?
Dengue can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to those of other viral infections. However, doctors can do a blood test to determine whether or not you have dengue. Like most viral infections, there is no specific treatment for dengue but rather focused on relieving symptoms. Generally, pain relievers with acetaminophen (NOT aspirin) are prescribed along with plenty of rest and liquids. If your fever is especially high, lasts longer than 3 days or is accompanied by vomiting, ask your doctor for a blood test. Always seek professional medical care if you’re symptoms are severe, persistent or in any way seem unusual.
How to prevent?
The best prevention is to limit your exposure to mosquitos as much as possible. Wear long sleeves and cover your legs, and use insect repellent, when you are outside in areas known to have dengue outbreaks. Because mosquitos lay their eggs in water, eliminate (as much as possible) any areas where rainwater may collect and become stagnant. Empty and clean watering cans, vases, planters, pet watering containers, etc., regularly.
How do I know if there is a dengue outbreak in Singapore?
The Singapore government does a fantastic job trying to alert citizens to the dangers and prevention of dengue. Their “Do the Mozzie Wipeout” campaign and website highlights which neighbourhoods have dengue clusters and more information about how to protect you and your family.
Looking for natural mozzie repellants? We can help!
By Kathleen Siddell, August 2015