I consider myself quite lucky to have lived in a dengue hotspot in the east for seven years now, battled countless mozzie bites and never got dengue – until recently.
A quick background about dengue: It is a mosquito-borne viral infection that has been a regular in Asian and Latin American countries. In Singapore, dengue typically peaks from June to October every year, partly due to dry-wet weather changes from the Southwest Monsoon. Every year, thousands of people here fall ill from dengue, and roughly 0.1 per cent of them die. This year has been a record year for dengue, partly due to Covid-19. The collective focus on the coronavirus has led us to conveniently overlook the prevalence and dangers of dengue, which has worsened with more people staying at home.
One major contributor to the spike in dengue cases: The circuit breaker and stay-home measures for Covid-19 led to less frequent checks on mosquito breeding sites, while the number of residential breeding sites increased, consequently raising the likelihood of getting bitten by female Aedes mosquitoes, the carriers of dengue virus.
Since the start of 2020, there has been more than 20,000 recorded dengue cases in Singapore. In the month of July alone, there were about 7,600 new dengue patients. And I was one of them.
For a viral outbreak that happens over five months every year, we sure aren’t talking about it enough. Before I had the infection, all I knew about dengue was that it gives you a high fever and affects something in your blood. Well, it’s called dengue fever, right? What I didn’t realise was just how debilitating and potentially life-threatening dengue is. It’s definitely more severe than just a fever.
These are the common dengue symptoms, according to the Ministry of Health:
- Fever for 2 to 7 days
- Severe headache with pain behind the eyes
- Joint and muscle pain
- Skin rashes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild bleeding (eg. nose or gum bleed)