Both my kids and helper caught Dengue fever. Here’s our story so you can watch out for Dengue symptoms plus tips on how to best avoid catching this virus!
Singaporean mother Tasneem Noor has two sons, Mika (11) and Adam (10). Both her kids and her helper all came down with Dengue fever – a mosquito-borne illness that occurs in tropical areas of the world. Singapore’s peak Dengue season is from June to October, and NEA has seen a huge surge in Dengue fever cases of late! Tasneem shares her story of how she was alert to the possibility of catching Dengue since she lives in a current active Dengue cluster (you can find out if you live in an active Dengue cluster here), what her kids’ Dengue symptoms were and what tips she has for the rest of us to stay safe!
How did you know your child had Dengue?
Mika started showing symptoms of severe headaches, he started feeling very warm all over his body, and developed rashes on his arms, chest and back. He also started getting body aches. He has previously developed similar symptoms when he has been exposed to very hot weather so initially, I thought this was the reason behind his symptoms.
As the day progressed, he developed a fever which started spiking quite fast to well above 39 degrees. This made me question if it could be Dengue as there have been Dengue cases around our area on and off over the years. He also started feeling extremely tired and lacked an appetite. The next day our youngest son Adam started showing the exact same symptoms which then made us decide to go for blood tests to figure out what was going on. The symptoms lasted for almost a whole week before they started to subside and the blood platelets started going up to normal readings again.
A few days after the boys got infected, our helper got infected as well with the same symptoms.
How was your child treated?
As there is no cure for Dengue, the only thing that we could do was to treat the symptoms – let them rest as much as possible, and drink loads of water. Their appetite went down to almost nothing for a few days.
Because the blood platelets readings are crucial, a reading around 50 requires hospitalisation, they had to go for blood tests almost every day to ensure it didn’t drop to these levels. Luckily the readings dropped to around 150 (normal count is around 260-over 300) before it started to go up again. For our helper the readings dropped to around 80, which caused a bit of a worry, until it started to go up again. Mika had to go back for a final blood test to ensure his readings were back to normal as his blood platelet count didn’t increase as fast as it did for Adam.
Do you know where your child caught Dengue?
I have no clear idea as it’s very tricky to know exactly as once the mosquito has “taken” blood from an infected person, this mosquito is infected for life and can spread Dengue until it dies, which can take several weeks. There has always been an issue with stagnant water in the drains around our neighbourhood which we have highlighted to both NEA and the landlord over the years which could be a possible source.
Once we realised that there were a lot of cases in the neighbourhood NEA started showing up almost every day to check, talk to the tenants, spray and clean the whole neighbourhood to do whatever was possible to ensure no further cases. This continued for a whole week, and we can still see them every now and then checking and spraying.
How long has it been since you all caught Dengue – any ongoing symptoms?
Now it’s been a few weeks since they recovered, the only thing is that there is ongoing tiredness, but it’s also improving. Other than that no ongoing symptoms.
What steps are you taking to avoid getting Dengue in future?
We’re spraying the house and the area around the house more frequently with mosquito spray. Also having the kids wear a mosquito patch or mosquito spray when they go and play in the park.
We are also ensuring that we don’t have any pots, buckets etc in the open that possibly can hold stagnant water in it as the mosquito eggs can survive for up to 5 months even if you clean the pots and buckets properly. To ensure containers are clean of mosquito eggs you have to use Clorox/bleach first to ensure nothing survives!
What tips would you offer other mamas in this situation?
1. Don’t be oblivious to the fact that getting dengue fever can be life-threatening, there is a possibility that you can die from it.
2. Be vigilant and always check for stagnant water, check pots to ensure that they have a hole at the bottom to let excess water out.
3. Don’t use double pots as there is a higher possibility that stagnant water can build up in these and with that, mosquitoes can lay their eggs undisturbed.
4. Use mosquito patches/spray regularly (preferably with DEET) when going to parks etc.
Many thanks to Tasneem for sharing her family’s story with us! If you want to read more about Dengue symptoms read this.
Did you know there’s a Dengue vaccine?
We sought additional medical advice from Osler Health International, Star Vista and Dr Trisha Upadhyaya says this about the Dengue vaccine:
Dengvaxia, the dengue vaccine, is only available in Singapore for those aged between 12 to 45 years. It has been shown to be 80% effective in protecting against dengue illness, severe dengue and hospitalisation in those who have had previous dengue infections. You cannot take this vaccine if you have never had dengue before. If you have had dengue in the past, you are more likely to develop severe dengue if you are infected with dengue again. The symptoms of severe dengue tend to begin after your fever has lysed and may include abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding from the nose/gums/in your vomit/in stools, lethargy, fatigue, restlessness, and irritability. If any of these warning signs are present, please see your doctor immediately or go to the closest Accidents & Emergencies for a thorough assessment. Severe dengue requires immediate medical care.