Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection that affects approximately 390 million in the world annually. It can cause acute flu-like illness and potentially escalate into a severe form of the condition, even leading to fatalities.
As there are four different dengue virus (DENV) serotypes, having an infection once does not mean that you will enjoy lifelong immunity against dengue fever. While you might be immune against the specific strain you were infected with, you may still be infected by the other types of dengue viruses, by the three other serotype strains. The best way to prevent dengue fever is to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by performing the #MozzieWipeout.
We are now in the second month of the traditional dengue fever peak season, which usually lasts from June to October every year. Since our previous article on dengue fever in April, the number of dengue fever cases has reached the point where we are having the worst peak dengue fever season since 2016. At the time of writing, the total number of dengue fever cases in Singapore this year has exceeded 23,500 in total, more than triple from 5,092 in April.
Dengue used to be classified into dengue fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, in increasing level of severity. However, in response to studies discovering that this method of classification would result in an underestimation of dengue severity in infected adults compared to children, the World Health Organisation revised the classification in 2009 to the following:
You might have dengue if you have a fever above 40°C and have at least two of the following symptoms:
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Severe dengue is a potentially fatal complication due to severe plasma leakage, where plasma leaks out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or even severe organ impairment.
Warning signs that doctors should look out for include:
Severe abdominal pain
Blood in vomit
The most effective way to protect you and your loved ones is performing the Mozzie Wipeout and eliminating breeding grounds of mosquitoes. You can also wear mosquito repellant and clothing that keep your skin from being exposed to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes when you’re out and about.
Hospitalisation for mild to moderately severe dengue can be minimised with the right testing and care at home. If you’re displaying any of the abovementioned symptoms, our doctors are available to provide medical advice and preliminary diagnoses via telemedicine consultation. Alternatively, you may opt for the doctor to conduct a physical consultation at your home, where we can also administer dengue rapid testing that can give you results within 20 minutes.
If your rapid test results are positive, a blood test to measure full blood count can be done from the same sample taken for the rapid test so that you won’t have to go through another blood draw. Blood tests are important because they help the doctor to monitor your platelet count, among other indicators. A typical person has a platelet count of between 150,000 and 250,000 per microlitre of blood. Dengue causes a rapid decline in platelet counts - dengue patients’ platelet counts usually drop below 100,000. For cases where platelet counts continue to trend downwards, doctors will usually advise patients to proceed to the hospital for observation and for immediate intervention if the case takes a turn for the worse.
For more stable cases, you can receive follow-up teleconsultations and have Speedoc’s nurses return to your home to perform follow-up blood tests to ensure that your blood platelet count is stable. If your condition is more severe, you might need IV drips, regular doctor reviews, and blood tests to monitor and manage your condition.
Have more questions or suspect that you might be down with dengue? You can schedule a video consultation with a Speedoc doctor on our app, available on the App Store or Google Play Store, make an appointment for a doctor house visit by using our online system, or simply contact our hotline at +65 8180 8948.