Did you know that dengue remains a major health threat in Malaysia? Over the last two years, dengue has been rising, registering 80,615 cases (147 deaths) in 2018 and 130,101 cases (182 deaths) last year.
While the nation is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be wary of the impending outbreaks of other infectious diseases that are prevalent in the country such as dengue fever.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
Dengue is a severe, flu-like illness that affects everyone. In some cases, dengue infection is asymptomatic, in which a person does not exhibit symptoms. Those with symptoms will usually get ill between 4-7 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. In many cases, symptoms will be mild, which may be mistaken for symptoms of the flu or other infection. Symptoms generally last for approximately 10 days and can include:
- Sudden high fever
- Severe headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pains
- Swollen glands
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 20 people who get sick with dengue will develop severe dengue. Severe dengue is a more serious form of the disease that can result in shock, internal bleeding and even death. Warning signs include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Rapid breathing
- Bleeding gums
- Blood in vomit
Treatment of Dengue Fever
There is no medication or treatment specifically for dengue infection. Fever reducers and pain killers can be taken to control the symptoms of muscle aches and joint pain, and fever. However, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin should be avoided as they can cause more bleeding. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and rest as much as possible.
Symptoms of dengue can become more severe within a few hours, and severe dengue requires a medical emergency. Patients with dengue should seek medical advice upon the appearance of warning signs.
Prevention of Dengue Fever
At present, the most effective way to control or prevent the transmission of dengue infection is to combat the mosquito vectors and protect yourself and family from mosquito bites. When you are in a high-risk area, you should:
- Use mosquito repellent indoors and outdoors
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks
- Use air-conditioning instead of opening windows
- Ensure that window and door screens are secure, and any holes repaired
- Use mosquito nets if sleeping areas are not screened
Combating the mosquito vectors involves getting rid of mosquito breeding areas. These areas include any place that still water can accumulate, such as:
- Pet dishes
- Empty planters
- Flower pots
- Any empty vessel
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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