WHAT is dengue?
Dengue is a disease caused by any one of four dengue viruses. The viruses are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito which is commonly found in Brunei Darussalam.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently estimates that there are 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide annually.
Among the estimated 2.5 billion people at risk of dengue globally, more than 70 per cent reside in Asia Pacific countries.
What is dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)?
DHF is a more severe form of dengue infection. It can be fatal if unrecognised and not properly treated in a timely manner. With good medical management, mortality due to DHF can be less than one per cent.
How are dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) spread?
Dengue is transmitted though the bite of an Aedes mosquito that is infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected with dengue virus when it bites a person who has dengue virus in their blood. After about one week, the mosquito can then transmit the virus when it bites a healthy person. Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
The main symptoms of dengue include:-
– Sudden onset of fever
– Severe headache
– Severe pain behind the eyes
– Muscle and bone pain
– Mild bleeding (nose or gums bleed, easy bruising)
Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is characterised by a fever that lasts from two to seven days. When the fever declines, symptoms such as persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain and difficulty breathing may develop. In addition, a patient with DHF has a tendency to bruise easily, bleeding nose or gums, and possibly internal bleeding.
What is the treatment for dengue?
There is no specific medication for dengue infection. Dengue usually clears up by itself within one to two weeks. People who think they have dengue should use analgesics (pain relievers) such as paracetamol.
They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a doctor. If their symptoms become worse, they should go immediately to the hospital.
Is there an effective treatment for dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)?
As with dengue fever, there is no specific medication for DHF. It can however be effectively treated by fluid replacement therapy in the hospital.
Where can outbreaks of dengue occur?
Typically, dengue occurs in areas that have a combination of:
– A warm and humid climate
– Overcrowding and major urban centres
– It is widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions
What can be done to reduce the risk of acquiring dengue?
There is currently no vaccine for preventing dengue. The best preventive measure for the spread of dengue is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays its eggs, primarily artificial containers that hold water.
Land and house/building owners are advised to spend at least 30 minutes twice a week to check their areas within their boundaries or the inside and the surroundings of their houses for any mosquito breeding places.
Remove and eliminate any mosquito breeding places by:
– Brushing and cleaning any surface of artificial containers to destroy any mosquito eggs which may have stuck to the surface of the containers. Mosquito eggs can withstand a dry environment for up to nine months and will hatch again when in contact with water
– Removing water collecting in plates of flower pots. Water in flower vases or bowls must be changed at least two or three times a week
– Ensuring that water flows freely in drains and not blocked by rubbish, tree leaves or overgrown grass
– Checking rain gutters for any blockages or damages to ensure it functions properly
– Covering water containers such as buckets and drums
The use of insecticides through fogging or spraying is a temporary measure to control mosquitoes which will reduce the population of mosquitoes. However, its effectiveness is short-term and dependent on the weather as any rain will wash away the insecticide. It is also ineffective in eliminating mosquito eggs. It is important to note that these insecticides are poisonous and overuse can contaminate the environment. Additionally, if it is not properly checked and controlled, it has the potential to cause adverse effects to human health and the environment. Frequent use of the insecticide in an area may also cause mosquitoes to be resistant to the insecticide.
The public must therefore play their role in ensuring environmental cleanliness and take steps to prevent exposure to mosquito bites by:
– Wearing long-sleeved clothing and long pants as well as avoiding dark coloured clothing as this will attract mosquitoes
– Using insectide aerosols, mosquito coils or mosquito repellent plates
– Using insect repellant especially for outdoor activities, if necessary
– Avoid outdoor activities during active mosquito biting times. For Aedes mosquitoes, normal biting times are early morning and late afternoon/early evening.
What is the Ministry of Health doing to prevent and control dengue?
Ministry of Health conducts regular environmental and entomological surveillance that has shown that in most cases of dengue, unsatisfactory environmental conditions are often observed around the homes of the cases, including neighbouring houses. Abandoned buildings and private land may also have collections of stagnant water that can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, especially Aedes.
The Ministry of Health also regularly supports the Ministry of Home Affairs and various community groups in conducting cleaning campaigns, especially in areas where a high number of dengue cases has been reported. Similar cleaning campaigns have also been done with schools and private agencies to prevent the transmission of the disease in their areas.
In addition, the Ministry of Health has actively conducted many health educational activities on dengue including health talks and the development of information materials such as leaflets, posters and TV advertisements.
In conjunction with the Asean Dengue Day, the Ministry of Health embarked on a health educational campaign which targeted relevant and important stakeholders and their agencies.
Where can I get further information?
Further information can be obtained by accessing the Ministry of Health’s website at www.moh.gov.bn or by calling its health line at 145. – Courtesy of Ministry of Health