Everything you should know about Dengue Fever in Hong Kong
Today marks the first day of school in Hong Kong, and different schools have stepped up their anti-mosquitoes efforts for fear of another wave of dengue fever. So far there have been 28 local cases and 62 imported cases recorded in town since 14th August, while there was only one confirmed case last year. In light of the sudden spike in infected cases, the government has deployed more hygiene officers to fog Cheung Chau and Lion Rock Park, the two main sources of local infection, as well as other high-risk areas.
In this feature by Pacific Prime Hong Kong, we are going to take a closer look at dengue fever, namely its nature, mode of transmission, symptoms, treatment, vaccination, and prevention methods.
What exactly is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is an acute mosquito-borne infection caused by the dengue viruses, commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world and particularly active in the summer. This is an endemic illness in many countries in South East Asia because the heavy rainfall provides favorable conditions for mosquito breeding.
The dengue viruses encompass four different serotypes, each of which can lead to dengue fever and severe dengue.
How is it usually transmitted?
The potentially fatal virus is transmitted to humans by the bites of infective female Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, a type of mosquito widespread in Hong Kong. This species of vectors (a medical term for mosquitoes spreading diseases) likes to sting during the daytime, particularly two hours after sunrise and a few hours before sunset. Mosquitoes acquire the virus when they bite an infected person, and become carriers of the virus. They can subsequently spread the virus to other individuals by biting them. Infected mosquitoes may also pass down the virus to their next generation.
However, it is not possible to transmit the virus from human to human directly or through droplet spread.
What are the symptoms?
The virus has an incubation period of commonly four to seven days, though theoretically speaking, the period can range from three to fourteen days.
Those infected will usually display symptoms such as high fever (for three to five days and can be as high as 40 – 41°C), intense headache, muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and rash. In severe cases, it may progress to circulatory failure, shock, and death. However, some patients will not develop any apparent symptoms or only display mild symptoms such as fever.
Those who have recovered from the disease for the first time will become immune to that particular serotype for the rest of their lives. However, if they are infected with other serotypes, it is more likely that they will suffer from severe, potentially deadly dengue.
There is no specific treatment or cure for dengue fever and severe dengue. Supportive treatment is given to alleviate the symptoms and relieve discomfort, such as managing the fever, controlling the pain and ensuring the patient has enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Since human to human transmission is not possible, patients do not have to be quarantined.
People usually do not die from dengue fever, but the risks are higher for older patients. With proper and timely treatment, the mortality rate is less than one percent.
French drugmaker Sanofi launched the world’s first dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia in 2016, which is administered in three doses over a year. Sanofi claims that it works better on people with prior infections of the virus. While not available in Hong Kong, it was initially approved for use in Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore.
However, in mid-2016, the World Health Organization (WTO) has warned of its safety risks since those without past infection can have an increased risk of severe dengue after vaccination. The Philippines has also called off its original massive immunization program and halted the sale of the vaccine in the country.
The best ways to prevent dengue fever are to stop the potential breeding of mosquitoes and avoid mosquito bites.
Stop potential mosquitoes breeding
This can be achieved by removing stagnant water, such as empty water buckets, bottles, and tires around homes and buildings.
Prevent mosquito bites
Besides, if you are engaging in outdoor activities, make sure that you wear light-colored, and long-sleeved clothing since mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors. You can also set mosquitoes traps and use DEET-containing bio-insecticides.
Furthermore, avoid going to scrubby places, affected areas or countries. If you can’t avoid that, consult the doctor at least six weeks before the trip, and take extra preventive measures to avoid mosquito bite. Observe for any symptoms and seek medical attention promptly if feeling unwell.
If you notice that you have developed dengue fever, and have been to the vicinity of high-risk areas such as Wong Tai Sin, Clear Water Bay, Cheung Chau, and Kwai Shing, you can call the hotline of The Centre for Health Protection for dengue fever at 2125 1122 from 9:00 am to 5:45 pm.
Seek quality health protection from Pacific Prime Hong Kong
We hope the above health information is of great use to you. Other than dengue fever, you can find a wealth of useful articles on other trending health topics and professional insurance knowledge in the blog and guide sessions of our website.
As an award-winning, independent insurance broker with almost two decades of history and nine offices around the world, Pacific Prime Hong Kong is committed to simplifying insurance and matching our clients with what they need. Our team of experts knows the ins and outs of different insurance solutions and is on hand to offer you impartial advice. Feel free to contact us today, and get a free quote and plan comparison!
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