6 dengue myths and facts every parent should know

June 03, 2020
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    Singapore may face the biggest dengue outbreak ever, warns the National Environment Agency (NEA), “unless collective community action is taken”.

    As of 3pm on Tuesday (June 2), there has been 9,261 infections – far more than double the number last year for the same period.

     

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    A statement from NEA said: “The number of dengue cases this year is expected to exceed the 15,998 cases reported in 2019, and may even surpass the 22,170 cases reported in 2013.”

    In the past two months, another five people have died from dengue, bringing the total number of deaths this year to 12. Last year, 20 people died of dengue.

    There are now 176 active dengue clusters, the biggest at Woodleigh with 181 people infected.

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    NEA said that several factors have contributed to the huge increase in dengue infections. One is the change in the dominant dengue serotype to DenV-3, which was last dominant about 30 years ago. This means that few people have immunity against it.

    There are four dengue serotypes and people are only immune against the type they have previously been infected with.

     

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    Second factor: The months of May to September are warmer, allowing mosquitoes breed more easily.

    And thirdly, with the circuit breaker measures, more people are staying home.
    The NEA said: “With a shift in human concentration from offices to homes, more people staying at home during the day also means more blood meals for the female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, especially in residential areas where the mosquito population is also high.”

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  • Myth: Dengue affects the elderly more often than younger people aged 45 and below
    5 / 10 Myth: Dengue affects the elderly more often than younger people aged 45 and below

    Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease expert from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, separates dengue facts from the myths.

    “The risk of getting the disease is a function of the mosquito, and not the age. It really depends on who the mosquito bites. There is an equal chance for everyone, regardless of age, to contract dengue.”

     

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  • Fact: Dengue affects the elderly more severely than younger people aged 45 and below
    6 / 10 Fact: Dengue affects the elderly more severely than younger people aged 45 and below

    “It is common for a young person to have dengue and not know about it, simply because he or she does not show the obvious symptoms.

    “The reason more elderly people die of dengue is because their immune system is naturally weak.

    “Also, the immune system has to deal with a whole range of other problems — high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease — which come with age.

    “All these existing problems complicate the disease-fighting process in an elderly person and presents a great struggle for an already frail body.”

     

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  • Myth: Dengue affects only certain parts of Singapore, which are the hot spots
    7 / 10 Myth: Dengue affects only certain parts of Singapore, which are the hot spots

    “A person with dengue automatically becomes a mobile hot spot. It is true that if you live in an active dengue cluster, the chances of contracting dengue is higher.

    “However, since Singapore is so small, dengue spreads very easily. Just one infected person can transform an area into an active dengue hot spot.”

    (Also read: Mosquitoes: Why do some children get bitten more than others?)

     

     

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  • Myth: Mosquito repellant sprays or lotions will keep us safe
    8 / 10 Myth: Mosquito repellant sprays or lotions will keep us safe

    Mosquito repellant helps in reducing mosquito bites and, in turn, the risk of contracting dengue. But many people forget that sweat can wash it off, in which case it becomes ineffective.”

    (Also read: Insect repellent tips for pregnant mums and newborns)

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  • Fact: The Aedes aegypti mosquito bites people only in the day
    9 / 10 Fact: The Aedes aegypti mosquito bites people only in the day

    “Yes, it is a day biter, which is unlike the Anopheles mosquito, a night biter, which spreads malaria.”

    (Also read: Which is the most effective mosquito repelling product?)

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  • Myth: You cannot contract dengue twice in a lifetime
    10 / 10 Myth: You cannot contract dengue twice in a lifetime

    “You can get infected up to four times. There are four strains and Dengue 1 and 2 are more prevalent in Singapore. Hence, patients usually contract it twice. It is only occasionally that one contracts it three times and, very rarely, four times in a lifetime.”

    A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times and The New Paper. 

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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