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.
Dengue remains endemic in Malaysia despite the fact that we have been, as a country, launched full campaigns against it since the 1980s. The Dengue outbreak has its highest concentration level in Selangor, and in that sense, we’ve not changed much although we have gotten much faster and efficient in identifying clusters and treating patients with dengue outbreaks.
Climate plays a crucial role in determining dengue clusters and outbreaks in this part of the world. The variables include season, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and rainfall. Although we have come to rely heavily on machine learning to predict dengue outbreaks in Malaysia, research may start leaning on boosting nature-inspired algorithms to come up with mozzie busting strategies.
The World Health Organization (W.H.O) continues to monitor the occurrences and the stats are telling. Approximately 390 million dengue virus infections are reported and patients treated every year, with the majority in the Asian region. Based on the W.H.O. studies, 2019 was the year with the largest number of dengue cases to be reported worldwide.
Dengue used to be classified into dengue fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, in increasing levels 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.