Dengue in Singapore

The Major Threat of Dengue in Singapore

Outbreaks of Dengue in Singapore are very common. 2019 saw several significant Dengue cluster formations. The charts for 2020 predict a continuation of the threat of Dengue in Singapore. The coronavirus outbreak has sparked concern that construction sites may become Dengue hotspots.

NEA Dengue Cases in Singapore
Chart of Dengue cases in Singapore (as of May 15th, 2020). Source: NEA

Risk of Dengue in Singapore

Dengue is a tropical disease that is caused and transmitted through mosquitoes. Singapore’s hot and humid climate makes it a paradise for mosquito breeding.

The threat of Dengue in Singapore is all year round.

In recent years, the two most significant Dengue outbreaks occurred at the beginning of the year (2016) and around halfway through the year (2019). See chart above.

Common Symptoms of Dengue Fever

If you are infected with Dengue fever, you may only show few or no signs of the disease. This is called asymptomatic.

Some people may experience symptoms a few days after they’ve been bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.

Common symptoms

  • Recurring fever
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Bone pain
  • Severe headache
  • Skin rash with red spots

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF)

While the fever usually isn’t fatal, in some cases it progresses to something called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF). Life-threatening complications may then occur.

Symptoms of DHF include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Bruising
  • Uncontrolled bleeding

Finally, DHF can also lead to a high fever (lasting between 2 to 7 days) and Dengue Shock Syndrome.

Transmission of Dengue

Dengue is transmitted via Aedes mosquitoes. The most common mode of transmission starts when an Aedes mosquito bites a person infected with Dengue virus.

The virus then undergoes an extrinsic incubation period in the mosquito for 8-12 days before granting the mosquito the ability to transmit the virus for the rest of its life. The infectious mosquito then transmits the virus to humans via its bite. The intrinsic incubation period in humans can take up to 10 days and the infected human will begin to show symptoms of the disease.

aedes mosquitoes

Control of Dengue in Singapore

The control of Dengue focuses on reducing the number of mosquito vectors. The control methods can be categorized into 4 main groups, namely cultural control, physical control, chemical control and biological control.

The National Environment Agency has been promoting the Mozzie Wipeout campaign that encourages the public to eliminate all potential mosquito breeding sites and make the environment less suitable for the mosquitoes’ survival. The Mozzie Wipeout campaign is an example of cultural control.

An example of physical control is the placement of gravitraps (and its predecessor ovitraps) to trap gravid mosquitoes.

Chemical control is the most common among the control methods. They rely on the use of chemical insecticides and is usually done via larviciding, thermal fogging and misting methods.

The biological control is another environmentally friendly approach to control mosquito populations. It involves the use of biological agents such as bacteria to control the mosquito population. Another innovation is the Project Wolbachia which reduces the population of Aedes mosquitoes through the release of sterile male Aedes mosquitoes.

Tips to Reduce Mosquito Bites

Let’s take a moment to look at some ways to reduce the risk of getting bitten mosquitoes.

7 Tips:

  1. Use insect repellents
  2. Wear protective clothing
  3. Avoid peak mosquito hours
  4. Keep air circulating
  5. Sleep under a mosquito net
  6. Get rid of stagnant water
  7. Keep your gardens and home clean

mosquito bites

Controlling and preventing mosquitoes in Singapore is a real challenge. As mentioned, the climate offers an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. However, public awareness, preventive methods, and collective efforts are crucial in the battle against Dengue in Singapore.

Pest control companies such as Killem Pest play a crucial role in this battle. The team of Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) is experienced, knowledgeable, and equipped with the right tools. Together we can win this battle!

How to Prevent Dengue Fever

  • Apply mosquito repellent
  • Airconditioning
  • Wear long clothing when you are outdoor 


COVID-19 versus Dengue

COVID-19 Versus Dengue: What Do We Need to Know?

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly worldwide. It was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 12th. In Singapore, there are 1309 confirmed cases as of April 5th, 2020.

With the outbreak of coronavirus worldwide, another public health concern faces neglection by the public: the Dengue virus (DENV). This life-threatening mosquito-borne disease is highly active in Singapore for years. People may not realize that the rise of dengue fever cases is looming in Singapore. There are 4776 dengue cases recorded as of March 28th, 2020. Twice the number compared to the same period of 2019.

Death cases: COVID-19 versus Dengue

How deadly is COVID-19, and how can Dengue be lethal to us? In Singapore, the total of deaths from COVID-19 rose to 6 death cases on April 4th. However, the Dengue virus took a total of 20 lives in 2019. So far, there are no cases of deaths due to the Dengue virus in 2020.

You may wonder if we can differentiate between the symptoms of COVID-19 and Dengue fever without laboratory testing. Here are some ways to tell the difference:

  • People who are infected with Dengue virus share similar symptoms as those with COVID-19, such as high fever and headache.
  • However, they may also develop other symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, rashes of the skin, and mild bleeding from nose and gum.
  • Respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, and breathing difficulties are not common in the Dengue virus.
  • The spread of COVID-19 is mainly person-to-person.
  • COVID-19 can be passed over to a healthy person by nasal discharge and saliva droplets from coughs and sneezes of a person infected with COVID-19.
  • The virus can easily infect a healthy person if the person uses his or her contaminated hand to rub or touch the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Not surprisingly, the infection of COVID-19 can happen through the inhalation of infected droplets into the lungs.
  • In the case of the Dengue virus, the transmission of the disease is vastly different compared to COVID-19. It is a vector-borne disease that requires the help of Aedes mosquitoes to spread the virus.

 

Prevention

Dengue

Dengue virus cannot be transmitted directly from one human to another.

Instead, it transmits through an insect vector – mosquitoes. By pulling mosquitoes out of the transmission or infection chain, we can stop the transmission of the virus. In other words, avoiding mosquito bites is an essential aspect in the prevention of Dengue. 

Read more: 7 Tips To Reduce Your Risk of Mosquito Bites

Eliminate mosquito breeding in and around your house

Controlling the mosquito population is essential in the fight against Dengue. Aedes mosquitoes breed in clean water found in natural and human-made containers. They can breed in water bodies that are as small as the size of a 20 cents coin, so all stagnant water must be eliminated to prevent mosquito breeding. Practice the following 5-step Mozzie Wipeout recommended by the National Environment Agency:

  1. Turn any unused pails
  2. Change water in vase regularly
  3. Flip flower pot plates
  4. Loosen hardened soil in flowerpots or planter boxes
  5. Clear roof gutter and place biological control (Bti)

Prevent mosquito bites

We can minimize our risk of getting mosquito bites by taking extra precautions when visiting places that are prone to mosquito attacks.

Long sleeve tops and long pants offer basic protection against mosquito bites. There are a variety of mosquito repellents that are made of either chemical compounds or natural plant extracts. You may choose any mosquito repellent of your preference, or that is available to you. However, it is essential to follow the instructions and reapply the repellent regularly as they may be rubbed or washed off during activities.

COVID-19

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid exposure to the virus as no vaccine is available yet.

WHO and CDC recommend some steps to protect you and the others from the virus. At the top of the list, we need to maintain good hygiene practices. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to properly remove germs from your hands. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content can be used if soap and water are not available. It is also important to avoid touching your face or eyes with unwashed hands.

Social Distancing 

Social distancing plays an integral part in the prevention of COVID-19 as you may pick up someone else’s respiratory droplets if you are standing too close to each other. A distance of at least 1 meter between individuals is recommended to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. Social distancing is even more important in communities where COVID-19 is spreading. Avoid close contact with people who are sick to protect both the person and yourself.

Be socially responsible. Seek medical attention if you are sick or experiencing respiratory symptoms. Follow the doctor’s advice and stay at home to prevent the disease from spreading. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. Lastly, wear a facemask to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets to other people.

Cleaning and disinfection should be carried out on frequently contacted surfaces.

The NEA provided a list of household products that can be used for disinfection. Several sources reported that the virus was able to last on various surfaces up to days. Thus, disinfection should be done regularly.

Related: What Role Can The Pest Control Industry Play in Fighting Off Coronavirus in Singapore?

How to Prevent Dengue?

Dengue can be prevented by taking basic precautions. The number 1 tip is to wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. Reduce your skin exposure as much as possible! Next, a mosquito net helps protect you at night while asleep. Keeping your living and office spaces clean also helps prevent mosquitoes and dengue.