Dengue fever is an illness that is caused by the dengue virus from mosquito bites of the Aedes mosquitoes. Do you know that only female mosquitoes and infected ones are only able to spread the disease? Mosquitoes are deemed to be infected when it bites a human with an existing dengue virus circulating in his or her body. The infected mosquito then spread the dengue virus through bites on the other human. Dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) is the severe form of dengue fever. In this article, we will be learning about what can be done to prevent epidemics of DHF.
Before knowing what to do to prevent epidemics of DHF, how does DHF differ with common dengue fever you already know? The main differences that are visible are symptoms of DHF are often more serious and dangerous compared to dengue fever. It is worth noting that initial symptoms of DHF could be the same with dengue fever but it is often involved with bleeding problems. You should be able to see prominent differences of symptoms between the two by looking down at the list below:
|Dengue fever||Dengue haemorrhagic fever|
|Joint pain (arthralgia)
Muscle pain (myalgia)
Headaches with pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital headaches)
|Severe abdominal pain
Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
Present of blood in stool
Black tarry stool (melena)
Confusion or restlessness
Marked change in temperature from fever to hypothermia
According to reports by the World Health Organization, dated 16 February 2023, in the first 5 weeks of early 2023, there have been 11 127 dengue cases reported with 6 deaths. This shows increasing trends as the number of cases during the same period back in 2022 was only 3 573 cases with 0 deaths. This shows that the importance of preventing epidemics of DHF is more important than ever to help curb this number before becoming an epidemic.
Prevention of DHF starts with preventing dengue fever. This means there are things that can be done as a community to prevent dengue infection aside from waiting for the healthcare team and government to take action. By taking preventative measures, not only epidemics of DHF can be prevented but also helps to save you and loved ones from such terrible medical conditions. The question now is, what can you do?
1- Prevent aedes mosquitoes from breeding. This can be done by collecting and disposing of all unwanted containers that can hold water such as cans or bottles. Remember to clean plant pot plates and scrub thoroughly to remove Aedes mosquito eggs at least once a week. If you do have water containers such as water reserves in the bathroom, do add in larvicides according to the recommended dose. Make sure to change water and scrub the inside of the water container at least once a week.
2- Keeping adult mosquitoes at bay. The best way is to destroy the adult mosquitoes by using aerosol insect repellent. You may want to consider using mosquito coils or electric vapours. Always wear full sleeves clothes and long dresses to minimise contact with the mosquito bites. Use mosquito nets surrounding the bed or place where you are taking naps or night sleep. Use special medicated lotions designated to keep the mosquitoes away. If possible, avoid staying in heavily-populated residential areas since there are high chances for mosquitoes to live within the area especially when it is dirty or polluted.
You may have heard about vaccines against dengue but in developing countries such as Malaysia, it is the cost that makes it not viable for the healthcare to give vaccines to everyone. The good news is there is a dengue vaccine available that has been proved to be effective against all of 4 dengue serotypes and generally show no significant safety issues. However, the protection it could provide in terms of duration and long-term effect of the vaccine is still uncertain. One thing for sure, when a vaccine is available to the public after it is approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and is given to many people, it could be the main key to preventing epidemics of DHF. For the time being, vaccines will only be under research and unable to be used for the public.
DHF is usually associated with those infected with dengue virus more than once in their life. You may probably say shouldn’t a person infected by dengue virus should be protected against subsequent infections in the future? Unfortunately, this is not the case with dengue infection. Dengue virus exists in 4 types which are DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4. When a person is infected with one of these serotypes and recovers, the body will only produce antibodies against that one specific serotype. Thus, when a person is re-infected by other serotypes, a person will suffer severe dengue such as DHF as a result of cross-reaction immune reaction.
It can be concluded that to prevent epidemics of dengue haemorrhagic fever starts within ourselves as civilians living in a community. Since prevention does not mean that there will be no chances for dengue fever, should there be any symptoms presented related to dengue fever, this should warrant a doctor’s appointment immediately and is more urgent if it is associated with DHF symptoms. Dengue can be rapidly worse in the elderly, young child, obesity and those with other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.