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Dengue Cases Surge, Experts Warn of Escalating Threat

Dengue Cases Surge, Experts Warn of Escalating Threat | Credits: Getty Images

United States: The cases linked to dengue have been increasing at an unmeasurable pace, increasing the concerns of health authorities across the world. Recently, concerns linked to the infection were noted in Singapore, where the total number of cases is about to reach the mark of 500 cases.

According to the local health authorities of Singapore, the total number of cases has reached 416, according to the tests conducted between March 31 and April 6, 2024. The experts have highlighted that the increase of 67 cases have been reported, as compared to previous week.

Within the initial fortnight of 2024, over 5,500 individuals have already contracted the ailment, as per data from the National Environment Agency (NEA). As of March 25, seven (7) individuals, primarily seniors, succumbed to dengue, according to straitstimes.com.

In the preceding year, there were 9,949 reported cases of dengue, resulting in six (6) fatalities.

Presently, there are 90 active clusters of dengue, with 20 harboring ten or more cases, as disclosed by the NEA.

Prominent clusters with accelerated dengue propagation encompass a cluster comprising 118 cases situated in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 and Avenue 4, an 83-case cluster within Marsiling Road and Marsiling Rise, and another cluster comprising 53 cases along Gangsa Road.

The surge in cases within Singapore precedes the customary peak dengue season spanning from May to October. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment, Baey Yam Keng, forewarned of this escalation upon the launch of the National Dengue Prevention Campaign 2024 on March 31.

NEA noted that the weekly tally of reported dengue cases has sustained an elevated status, surpassing 300 cases since the onset of 2024.

This, coupled with the substantial Aedes aegypti mosquito population and deficient population immunity to all four dengue virus serotypes, may precipitate a surge in dengue cases in the ensuing months if inadequate measures are undertaken, cautioned the agency, as reported by straitstimes.com.

Professor Hsu Li Yang, an authority on infectious diseases at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, remarked, “We are witnessing a higher caseload during this period compared to recent years, barring perhaps 2020.”

In 2020, there were in excess of 35,000 infections and a record 32 dengue-related fatalities.

The escalation in cases during 2024 could stem from various factors, with climatic conditions being a plausible factor, suggested Prof Hsu.

NEA also reported an uptick in mosquito breeding sites, both within and outside residential premises.

While a dengue infection is typically benign, with the majority of cases being asymptomatic, it can induce discomfort in some individuals and, in rare instances, progress to severe dengue or fatality.

Individuals of advanced age and those with pre-existing medical conditions are at heightened risk of severe complications from dengue infection, emphasized a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Representation for mosquito which may carry dengue virus | Credits: Pixabay

Additionally, individuals experiencing a secondary infection are susceptible to severe illness, as recurrent dengue infections correlate with an elevated incidence of severe manifestations.

Madam Geraldine Tham, aged 70, encountered this firsthand. The patient was suffering from dengue fever. She was admitted to the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in early April. Exhausting symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, stomachache, and chill were the worst things that she could imagine, and her platelet count of below the normal quantified scale naturally pulled her to the bed, which acted as a precautionary measure against any case of blood leakage from the body as a result of injuries, as reported by straitstimes.com.

“I had episodes of headaches, rashes on my legs, and above all, a feeling of heaviness,” said Madam Tham, a corporate support officer at a school. Even doing as simpler daily observance as that teeth brushing could lead to gum bleeding.

Fortunately, she improved and was released on April 5, as per straitstimes.com. Now, the government will have to work on improving regulations to protect consumers.

The first of which would be Dr. Chia Po Ying, a consultant at NCID. She emphasized that a diagnostic blood test for dengue is usually performed after the appearance of the symptoms that are a rating of abrupt onset of fever and headache and which may or may not be accompanied by eye pain, muscle and joint aches, and nausea with vomiting. Tongue swelling, difficulty breathing, inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis), skin eruptions, easy bruising, and bleeding from the nose or gums are the other symptoms that will typically show up. However, elderly patients may have a fever as their only symptom, while a medical doctor would be described as another.

Hospitalization of the group of the elderly who have comorbidities mainly is, according to the Scientific Woman, the largest subpopulation consuming hospital beds due to dengue.

Although the majority of NCID dengue patients convalesce satisfactorily, a minority exhibit complications necessitating intensive care, including severe cases, Dr Chia added.

For private tutor Edwina Shaddick, aged 35, who contracted dengue alongside her sister in 2022, the ordeal was arduous, albeit manageable at home. Recounting nearly two weeks of confinement to bed, she described the experience as debilitating.

Following their recovery, both their father and brother fell victim to dengue fever. Remarkably, their mother, also residing in the same household, remained unscathed.

Although dengue does not propagate directly from person to person, an infected individual harbors the virus in their bloodstream during the initial week of infection, if a mosquito bites them during this period, it acquires the virus and can subsequently transmit it to others through subsequent bites.

“Even after a dengue diagnosis, it’s prudent to continue using insect repellent to impede the onward transmission of the dengue virus to mosquitoes and other individuals within the community,” advised Dr Chia, as straitstimes.com reported.

Ms Shaddick recounted how her 72-year-old father was admitted to the hospital when his platelet count plummeted to perilously low levels.

However, he opted for discharge to recuperate at home. “It was quite harrowing, fearing he might suffer a fall and bleed to death,” she recounted.

Dr Chia remarked that even younger individuals devoid of pre-existing medical conditions can succumb to severe dengue.

Logistics manager Lynn Ng, aged 43, contracted dengue in June 2022, recalling profound fatigue and mild nausea preceding her hospitalization. Enduring throbbing headaches, she was barely ambulatory upon seeking medical intervention.

During her initial hospitalization night, she beseeched for a receptacle to alleviate her vomiting episodes. “At one juncture, I regurgitated blood. My appetite waned, and sleep eluded me,” she continued.

Post-discharge, her customary vigor remained elusive, exacerbated by a subsequent bout with COVID-19, rendering her convalescence protracted, straitstimes.com mentioned.

NEA enjoins the populace to remain vigilant, employ insect repellents, and eradicate stagnant water reservoirs.

Prof Hsu reiterated, “Foremost, it’s imperative to preempt mosquito bites at dengue hotspots and collectively endeavor to eliminate potential mosquito breeding grounds.”

MOH advises prompt medical consultation with primary care providers upon suspicion of dengue. Individuals evincing severe symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

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