Small in nature, Great in danger


A current evaluation on the dengue fever epidemic

In Malaysia, it is prevalent information that the dengue fever is reaching an all-time high as of early 2016. The Star newspaper headlined recently that there is 1 new case of dengue every 3 minutes.  In the first week of this year alone, a whopping number of 3337 people have been diagnosed with dengue. The last week of December reported 2,511 cases of dengue with 4 deaths.  According to the health ministry, 336 people – an average of 28 a month – died from dengue last year (2015) compared to 215 in 2014, which shows a rise of 56.3%.  


What is Dengue?

Dengue is a viral infection spread by the bite of a female mosquito (Aedes aegypti). The mosquito becomes infected when it sucks the blood of a person already infected with the virus. After about a week, the virus can then be transmitted by the mosquito by biting a healthy person. Typically, it takes 3 to 14 days for people to get sick after being bitten by the carrier mosquito. Dengue is mostly found in tropical and sub–tropical regions across the globe.  Today, approximately 40% of the world's population lives in regions where there is a risk of contracting dengue.


What contributes to the breeding of these mosquitoes?

Technically, any place that has stagnant water, be it containers, pots etc is a breeding spot for these mosquitoes”. The alternation of rainy and sunny weather especially in tropical countries causes Aedes breeding to increase as well. Construction sites and places where stagnant water is found are also main breeding grounds for these mosquitoes. In addition, poor management of environmental cleanliness and the practice of littering and unmonitored solid waste is a major reason as to why Malaysia has seen such a spike in dengue cases.  

According to the Health ministry’s Vector Borne Disease Sector (Disease Control Division) head Dr Rose Nani Mudin, another factor was serotype changes in the dengue virus. She noted that “Four to five months after a serotype shift, when one dengue serotype becomes prevalent, cases would increase due to lack of immunity against the new serotype.”

Look out for these symptoms!

One of the most obvious symptoms associated with dengue is a sudden onset fever of a high temperature of 40C and at least two of the following symptoms.  

  • Severe headache

  • Rash

  • Pain behind the eyes

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Swollen glands

headaches and muscle and joint pain are common symptoms of dengue

The Treatment

Dengue fever is usually a self-limited illness which means that it is a disease that resolves spontaneously with or without specific treatment. There is currently no specific antiviral treatment or vaccinations that   are available to combat dengue fever. Ensuring that the patient gets enough supportive care with the aid of analgesics (painkillers), fluid replacement and sufficient bed rest is usually enough. Acetaminophen may be used to treat fever and relieve other symptoms. Some medications to avoid include Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroids. Under serious circumstances, dengue requires careful attention to fluid management and proactive treatment of hemorrhage.

Nonetheless, there are currently six dengue fever vaccines that are in development stages, but not yet available. The vaccine that is furthest in development is a three-dose vaccine for children.

medical treatments for dengue


Preventive methods

The swiftest course of action against dengue fever would be to get rid of any breeding grounds that are available for the breeding of these mosquitoes. Wearing protective clothing while outdoors and limiting outdoor activities while cases of dengue are high are also good precautionary steps to follow. Finally, the use of mosquito repellents which contain permethrin which can be applied to shoes, clothing and bed netting might also aid in the effort to avoid dengue fever.  

It is important to note that no one is ever 100% immune to dengue fever which means that anyone can be a victim. It requires a joint effort from all responsible parties to minimize the number of casualties being hospitalized as a result of this strain we are facing.

What do you guys have to say about the current status of dengue cases in Malaysia? I think that it is a serious problem which should not be taken lightly as it affects our wellbeing in every sense. Please do let us know in the comment section below.

by Kevin

An average 22 year old with an unquenchable thirst for adventure and new experiences. Living life as it comes :) View all articles by Kevin.


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