2020 has been taken over by the news of COVID-19. Updates on COVID cases are released on social media outlets daily and by now (almost) everyone is aware of the dangers of the virus, the symptoms to look out for, and how to protect themselves from it.
However, among the shadows of COVID-19 lurks another imposter disease that has been a public health threat for way longer than COVID-19.
Dengue is no stranger to Singapore. While not as deadly as COVID-19, we’ve been used to fight this virus annually, with the familiar banners showing the infection numbers in each neighbourhood going up around mid-year. To many Singaporeans, Dengue may not be a major cause of concern. After all, what are the chances that they would get bitten and infected?
2020 is the year for everything
Yet, the numbers this year are showing something different. Dengue has already infected over 30,000 people in Singapore this year. This is almost 8,000 more than the previous high back in 2013. From June to August, the growth in cases reached more than 1,000 cases per week, a rough 12% from 2014’s all-time high.
If these numbers are not enough to raise the alarm, Singapore is seeing a new contender rising up the vent, apart from crewmates DenV-1 and DenV-2, which have been the predominant Dengue serotypes here for the past few years and some form of ‘herd immunity’ has formed (yes, it’s safe in this case).
This new strain is, unsurprisingly, named DenV-3, and what’s worrying is that the possible rise of DenV-3 as the dominant serotype will mean herd immunity is low, and that a larger proportion of the population is now susceptible to Dengue.
Basically, we’d need to start getting large masses of the population infected and then immune all over again, possibly before COVID-19 has fully died down.
With over 20 deaths lost to dengue this year, it is time for Singaporeans to take immediate and determined action to stop dengue.
Below is a very brief infographic of common symptoms of Dengue.
The symptoms usually show 4-6 days after infection and may last up to 10 days. It is easy to confuse the symptoms with other illnesses like the simple flu so be more conscious of the symptoms. See a doctor immediately if you suspect that you have dengue.
Image source: Health Plus
Yes, we know, and we all know. But we feel that this is a really succinct summary of the little parts we can all play, so here’s the last naggy paragraph of this article.
Image source: NEA
The ‘circuit breaker’ when it comes to the spread of Dengue is preventing the breeding of the Aedes mosquito, the carrier, and beholder of Dengue.
We can all try performing the oh-so-familiar 5-step Mozzie Wipeout at least once a week to prevent our homes from becoming breeding spots. 5 steps, here we go:
Loosen hardened soil (for water not get stuck on soil surfaces)
Turn over pails
Flip flowerpot plates (poor out excess water collected)
Clear the roof gutter and place BTI insecticide
If we can’t successfully circuit-break, then preventing ourselves from getting bitten will be the next better alternative, much like how we all wear masks right now in fighting COVID-19.
Wearing long-sleeve tops and long pants and using mosquito repellent can prove effective to varying degrees. This is especially important in the early morning and late afternoon, which are the peak biting periods of our sus friend Aedes.
An even more ‘pro’ tip is to not even allow mosquitoes to be around you. Keeping our homes all-clear by spraying insecticide at mosquitoes’ possible hiding places (such as under sofas, tables/shelves, behind curtains, and dark parts of the kitchen).
A simple light spray in these places can be effective in killing the mosquitos hiding at home.
Play your Part
Everyone has a part to play in the fight against dengue. You do not want your family member to end up in the hospital due to dengue -- so, protect your family and you will protect the community!
And then we can slowly say goodbye to emergency meetings and more circuit breakers.