As though the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the worst hit in Singapore, the lion city was hit again by the second outbreak of dengue fever. On 30 May 2020, 733 dengue cases were reported. The cumulative number of 2 June is 9259 which is the highest for the same period of the year since 2013 and the largest outbreak year recorded in Singapore’s history, according to the NEA.
The NEA statement said: “The number of dengue cases this year is expected to exceed the 15,998 cases reported in 2019, and may even surpass the 22,170 cases reported in 2013.”
In the past two months, another five people have died from dengue, bringing the total number of deaths this year to 12.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the 12 people who died after getting the mosquito-borne disease were aged between 56 and 80 years old. Of them, 10 worked or resided in active dengue clusters.
As of last year, 20 people died of dengue.
There are now 176 active dengue clusters, the biggest at Woodleigh with 181 people infected.
The NEA said: “Weekly dengue case numbers are likely to continue to rise, and more dengue clusters will form in the coming weeks to months.”
Read more about the factors which led to the increase of Dengue cases at: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/huge-dengue-outbreak-expected-this-year-more-than-8000-infected-and-12-dead-so-far
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
Symptoms of dengue typically last 2–7 days. Most people will recover after about a week
- Nausea, vomiting
- Aches and pains (eye pain, typically behind the eyes, muscle, joint, or bone pain)
- Stomach or belly pain, tenderness
- Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours)
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
- Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
- Feeling tired, restless, or irritable
Find out more symptoms and treatments available at: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/symptoms/index.html
Why do I get bitten more than others?
On the topic of mosquitos, let us discuss a more common issue which is getting bitten very often by mosquitos. There have been some factors which have been proven to have led to the reason why some people are getting bitten more often than others, which in turn increase the risk of contracting dengue fever at times like this.
According to heathline, these are the factors that attracts mosquitoes to you:
We all emit carbon dioxide when we breathe out. We also produce more when we’re active, such as during exercise.
Mosquitoes can detect changes in carbon dioxide in their environment. Research has shown that different mosquito species may respond differently to carbon dioxide.
An increase in carbon dioxide can alert a mosquito that a potential host is nearby. The mosquito will then move towards that area.
Mosquitoes are attracted to certain compounds that are present on human skin and in sweat. These compounds give us a specific odor that can draw mosquitoes in.
Several different compounds have been identified as being attractive to mosquitoes. Some that you may be familiar with include lactic acid and ammonia.
Researchers are still investigating the causes of the variations in body odor that make certain people more attractive to mosquitoes. Causes could include genetics, certain bacteria on the skin, or a combination of both.
Body odor itself is determined by genetics. If you’re related to someone who is often bitten by mosquitoes, you may be more susceptible too. A study published in 2015 found that mosquitoes were highly attracted to odors from the hands of identical twins.
Skin bacteria also play a role in body odor. A 2011 study found that people with a high diversity of microbes on their skin were less attractive to mosquitoes.
The researchers also identified specific species of bacteria that were present on people who were highly and poorly attractive to mosquitoes.
Research has shown that mosquitoes are attracted to the color black, but little is known about why. Regardless, if you’re wearing black or other dark colors, you may be more attractive to mosquitoes.
Heat and water vapour
Our bodies generate heat, and the levels of water vapor close to our skin can vary depending on the surrounding temperature.
As a mosquito gets closer to us, it can detect heat and water vapor. This can play a role in whether it decides to bite. A study found that mosquitoes move toward nearby heat sources that are at a desired temperature.
These factors can also be important for host selection. Other animals may have differences in body temperature or water vapor throughout their bodies. These variations could be unattractive to mosquitoes that prefer to feed on humans.
A small 2002 study looked at the effects of alcohol consumption on attractiveness to mosquitoes. The researchers found that people who had consumed beer were more attractive to mosquitoes than people who had not.
Best ways to relieve a mosquito bite
What should I do if I have been stung or bitten by a mosquito?
- Avoid scratching. Scratching can increase swelling, and it breaks your skin, putting you at risk of an infection.
- Apply cold to the site. Using a cool compress like a wet towel or cold pack can help with swelling and itch.
- Use lotions or creams. There are a variety of itch-relieving creams available for purchase, including hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion.
Most mosquito bites should go away in a few days. See your doctor if a bite looks infected or if you have other symptoms associated with the bite, such as fever, aches and pains, or headache.
Mosquito repellents – Does smell repel mosquitoes?
Prevention is better than cure. The most safest way of preventing getting bitten by a mosquito is definitely to whip out your mosquito repellent.
However, with so much variety of mosquito repellents out there, how do we know which one is effective? Moreso, how effective is it to repel mosquitoes by the use of smell?
As we all know, most commercial repellents use smell to repel mosquitoes from citrus smells such as orange to essential oils such as lemongrass or citronella. While it is proven to be able to repel mosquitoes, however, it only maintains its effectiveness under a short period of time and under favourable circumstances such as the lack of wind.
In a windy environment, scents are no longer effective in repelling mosquitoes as the smell would dissipate with the wind thus decreasing the efficacy of the repellent, in other words, the effects of the repellent wears off.
The untold truth about DEET mosquito repellents
N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, also called DEET, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. Despite it being in many mosquito repellents, DEET does cause a serious skin reaction for sensitive skin.
DEET can be a strong chemical which causes skin reactions such as skin itchiness, red patches or even rashes. While these symptoms may be more common in babies and children, there is evidence that some adults with extremely sensitive skin do suffer from these reactions as well.
In extreme rare cases, DEET seems to have been related to the cause of seizure of children and eventually death. While there has not been direct scientific proof that DEET harms the nervous system, it can be acknowledged that long exposure of DEET on the skin would cause irritation to the skin. THus infants or children are not recommended to utilise DEET products.
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