Dengue fever is something that has been plaguing Singapore since the literal dawn of time… before 2020, of course.
And for good reason, too. Since dengue fever is most common in warm weather conditions, it has basically become synonymous with our sunny island.
And so the question begets; what is dengue fever, and is there a vaccine for it? If there is, why isn’t everyone taking it?
Here’s everything you need to know about dengue fever, simplified for you!
If you prefer to watch a video instead, here’s a YouTube video we’ve done on this topic:
How Dengue Fever is Transmitted
Before anything, you should know how dengue fever is being transmitted.
So, imagine a guy has dengue fever.
If an Aedes mosquito bites him, the mosquito will become infective after 8 to 12 days.
After that, it’ll be infective forever, which means it can infect anyone it bites.
So if it bites another guy after 10 days, then the other guy will be infected, and the cycle goes on and on.
Aedes Mosquito Facts
Thankfully, on average, an Aedes adult mosquito’s lifespan is only about two weeks in nature.
However, this can go up to a month if the conditions are right.
But it’s not the lifespan that you should be worried about: it’s how fast they reproduce.
In its short lifespan, one mosquito can lay eggs three times, and each time, about 100 eggs are produced.
I’m sure we all know by now that Aedes mosquitoes breed through stagnant water. And for the record, only small amounts of stagnant water are needed for Aedes mosquitoes to breed.
So never keep stagnant water.
Dengue Fever Facts
Have you ever wondered why some people keep coming down with dengue fever while others have never once caught the disease?
Well, here’s the thing: not everyone who catches the virus develop symptoms.
Yes, so it’s just like COVID-19: even if you don’t see a dengue cluster poster in your area, there might still be a cluster.
And since we can’t get mosquitoes to wear a mask, the only way to fight it is by doing the five-step mozzie wipeout so they can’t reproduce.
After all, remember: one mosquito can lay 300 eggs in her lifetime.
For dengue fever, up to 75% of people who are infected are asymptomatic, so yes, that cute guy you’ve a crush on might have an active dengue infection.
But don’t worry: you can still go ahead and kiss him because dengue fever doesn’t spread from person to person.
But if dengue only causes that few people to have symptoms, why are the authorities taking it so seriously?
This leads us to the next point.
Severe Dengue Fever
For normal dengue fever, if you develop symptoms, you’d have fever for up to seven days with other symptoms like skin rashes, vomiting, mild bleeding, headache and whatnot.
Don’t Google for the symptoms; just seek medical attention if you feel unwell, because we all know Googling symptoms would magically cause more symptoms, and you’d eventually come to the conclusion that you’ve a terminal illness.
Treatment for dengue fever is supportive, which means you’d let your body fight the virus by itself.
But here’s the thing: some people might develop severe dengue.
That is very serious and the person might have more severe bleeding problems or plasma
This can be fatal.
Because severe dengue will occur after the recovery of the initial infection, it’s important to
ensure that you don’t catch it in the first place.
But are we immune to it, and can we take a vaccine for it?
Dengue Fever Immunity
For a start, there are four types of Dengue virus: DENV-1 to DENV-4.
All of them cause the same symptoms.
Like many viruses, once you’ve been infected, you’d have built some immunity to it.
But if you’re infected with one of them, you’d only build immunity to that type, though you’d somehow be immune to the other types for just a while lah.
In Singapore, the DENV-2 is the main type that’s being spread. According to a 2015
study, about 87% of people in Singapore aged 56 to 60 are immune to it and yet, for people between 16 to 20, it was only 14%.
Playing a guessing game on whether you’re immune to it or not is a dangerous game, and it has become even more dangerous recently.
In 2020, DENV-3 somehow spread in our community and it led to outbreaks involving large clusters in Singapore.
In fact, it led to a record number of deaths, killing 32 people.
COVID-19 claimed 29 people in Singapore in 2020, so you can tell why we shouldn’t get
complacent over dengue fever.
But how about vaccines?
Well, there is indeed a vaccine for it.
Dengue Fever Vaccine
A dengue vaccine was approved for use in Singapore in late 2016, and unlike COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 doses over a month or so, this dengue vaccine requires 3 doses over 12 months.
It’s effective for all four types of Dengue virus, but unfortunately, it’s only for people between 12 to 45.
Over here in Singapore, it’s still not part of the national vaccination programme as it’s not a clinically and cost-effective means to tackling dengue infection in Singapore.
So the goal is still simple: do the five-step mozzie wipeout regularly.
Featured Image: Dr David Sing / Shutterstock.com