With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us now understand that threats to our health and wellbeing can be unpredictable. Perhaps a silver lining to the situation is that with active efforts to contain the spread of the virus, such as public education initiatives about hand-washing and how viruses spread, the community has now adopted better personal hygiene practices.
While we do our part in Singapore in fighting COVID-19, we cannot afford to ignore another lurking threat – dengue.
Dengue infections in Singapore have already risen to nearly 10,000 in June 2020 after a sharp spike in reported cases in April. The National Environment Agency (NEA) raised the alarm by issuing a statement stating that dengue cases this year may surpass the 2013 record level where 22,170 cases were reported.
What is dengue?
Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that causes dengue fever. It is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infective female Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which can be identified by the black and white stripes on their bodies.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years, with up to 50 to 100 million infections annually in over 100 countries.
There are four different serotypes of the dengue virus: DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4. Recovering from one serotype generally provides lifelong immunity but this does extend to the other serotypes. Hence, individuals can be infected with dengue up to four times.
Those who have dengue fever may experience the following symptoms:
- Sudden onset of fever for 2 to 7 days
- Severe headache with pain behind the eyes
- Joint and muscle pain
- Skin rashes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild bleeding from the nose or gums or easy bruising of the skin
In rare cases, infections may progress to severe dengue, which is life-threatening. If you think you might have dengue fever, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Why are cases spiking this year?
According to NEA, one reason for the recent spike is due to the increase in those infected by serotype DENV-3. This serotype is less common in Singapore, which means there is less immunity among the local population.
The Circuit Breaker had also kept more people staying home and around residential areas, rather than in offices or shopping malls. This may have contributed to increased contact with the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which typically dwells in indoor spaces, especially in residential areas, and is most active during daytime.
The traditional peak dengue season is between June and September, as the weather becomes warmer in Singapore. This also likely increased our contact with the Aedes aegypti mosquitos as well.
Doing your part in dengue defence
Similar to managing COVID-19, everyone has to play their part in combating this health threat. In NEA's statement, we are encouraged to remind family members and neighbours to join in the collective effort to curb dengue transmission by engaging in dengue defence efforts. This checklist is a good place to start.
You can keep yourself up-to-date with dengue clusters on the NEA website to check if you need to further step up your dengue defence measures. You might also like to download the myENV app (on iOS or Android) for regular updates from NEA.
As the Aedes mosquito prefers to breed in clean, stagnant water, you should regularly check and remove stagnant water in and around your home. According to NEA's quarterly Dengue Surveillance Data in Q1 2020, the top five breeding habitats in homes include:
- Domestic containers
- Ornamental containers (vases)
- Flower pot plates and trays
- Water fountains
- Toilet bowls and cisterns
While the top five breeding habitats in public spaces include:
- Covered perimeter drains
- Discarded receptacles
- Gully traps
- Covered carpark drains
- Inspection chambers
Stay dengue free with AIA
With dengue infections on the rise, you can build another layer of dengue defence. Speak to our AIA Financial Services Representatives or contact us to learn more.
Stay home, stay safe and stay dengue-free with AIA.