Most Malaysians are familiar with dengue fever but statistics have shown that this disease has been neglected because the number of dengue cases in Malaysia is still on the rise. According to the Health Ministry, dengue cases reported in Malaysia escalated drastically from 7,103 cases in 2000 to 120,386 cases in 2015. 336 people died of dengue in 2015.
On a global scale, according to World Health Organization, up to 50-100 million infections are now estimated to occur annually in over 100 endemic countries, putting almost half of the worlds population at risk.
There are a few reasons behind the spike of the dengue cases, according to Dr Rose Nani Mudin - the head of Disease Control Division in the Health Ministry, they can be due to
1. Climate change Alternate rainy and hot seasons encourage Aedes mosquitoes to breed faster.
2. Stereotype changes in dengue virus when a stereotype move from one to another, a person could get infected again and again due to lack of immunity. Dr. Subramaniam, head of Health Ministry, highlighted that a person could suffer from the infection 4 times in a lifespan because of this.
3. Poor hygiene environment Littering and inappropriate waste disposal especially at the construction sites.
What all this information translates into is dengue can be life-threatening and shouldnt be belittled. Therefore, it is good to be aware of what is dengue about, the preventive measures and what can we do if we get infected.
What is Dengue?
Dengue is spread through the bite of the female Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. Dengue is not contagious so it will not spread directly from one person to another.
The dengue virus (DEN) consists of 4 different types (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4).
A person usually gets a lifelong immunity against one type if get infected. For example, if a person gets infected by DEN-1 previously, he gets a lifelong immunity against DEN-1. However, the risk of getting a severe dengue increases if bitten by another type.
*In case you don’t know, female Aedes mosquito is also the main vector responsible for spreading Zika.
What are the symptoms?
Dengue can affect anyone from young to old and could be fatal.
The common symptoms could be sudden high fever (40°C) with chills, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain (that’s why it is also known as break bone fever), nausea, vomiting, and also fatigue. It usually takes around 5 to 8 days for the symptoms to show and last for up to 2 weeks.
How serious can dengue be?People have to be more alert when the mild dengue fever has changed into severe dengue, called “dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF)” or “dengue shock syndrome (DSS)”.
Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF)
A person may experience severe bleeding because of blood plasma leakage and low levels of platelets that slow down blood-clotting.
- Symptoms: very high fever, spontaneous bleeding, especially from the gums, bleeding under the skin, bleeding in the gut, and liver damage.
- DHF can be fatal if not treated in time.
- Most deaths reported have been in young adults.
Dengue shock syndrome (DSS)
Blood pressure drop to a very dangerous level that can cause shock and lastly death.
- Symptoms: very high fever, severe bleeding, weak pulse, drop in blood pressure, restlessness, and cold clammy skin (with signs of shock)
- Fatality rates as high as 50% - two-thirds fatalities occur in children.
Treatment of dengue feverThere is no specific treatment so you should be seeking medical advice if you experience dengue fever symptoms. For the milder dengue fever:
- Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration – Drink up 2 litres of prescribed fluid a day for children above 40 kg and adults
- Avoid medicines with aspirin that could worsen the bleeding
- Get plenty of rest
In the event of severe dengue, the person needs to be admitted in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and get treatments like blood and platelet transfusion, intravenous fluids for rehydration and oxygen therapy if oxygen levels are low.
PreventionTo prevent Aedes mosquitoes from breeding, what can we do:
- Frequently check and remove any sources of stagnant water – Aedes mosquitoes like to breed in stagnant and clean water.
- Use mosquitoes’ repellents when you are going for outdoor activities - Aedes mosquitoes are most active from dawn to dusk.
- Cover up with long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes if you are going to mosquito-infested areas.
Do you know dengue is covered by some medical cards?
You can use your medical card to cover dengue treatment in the event of hospitalisation, touchwood. Since dengue is a common disease in Malaysia, some insurance companies even incorporated dengue treatment as part of the medical insurance such as ManuMedic by Manulife and MaxHealth Plan by MCIS Insurance.
Talk to our FAR if you want to know more.
You may be interested in:
Major Medi by Hong Leong Assurance
MedGlobal IV Plus by Hong Leong Assurance
Flex Medical by Zurich Insurance Malaysia
Zurich MegaMed by Zurich Insurance Malaysia
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