Another Battle At Our Doorsteps..Literally

Now that there’s a temporary reprieve  in Gaza, our attention should shift to a series of attacks by various viruses  in the Far East. In China, a potential outbreak (again!) of bird-flu is in the making with the death of a 27 year-old woman in China. Caused by the H5N1 virus, the last outbreak was in Asia in 2003 where  247 died. Find out more about the avian influenza virus( the proper name).

A little-known virus, Chikungunya (pronounced chikoon-goon-nya) has already made its entrance with Malaysia reporting 100 cases per week instead of the usual 100 cases per year. This disease is usually confused with dengue as they have similar presentations, although it follows a more benign course. Read more about it in my recent posting “This Thing called Chikungunya”.


Of immediate concern is the recent outbreak of dengue fever(pronounced den-gie), where the incidence has doubled in recent months in tropical and subtropical areas. In Malaysia, 8 deaths have been reported this month alone. Here’s a good write-up about dengue but I would like to highlight a few pointers:

  1. While the typical symptoms are high fever with chills, rashes, headaches and severe bodyaches in the absence of a runny nose, the latest outbreak has produced unusual symptoms like fits, yellowing of the eyes (jaundice) and kidney failure, all of which require treatment in hospital.
  2. Both Chikungunya and Dengue viruses are carried by the same mosquitoes called Aedes Aegypti. They are the ones with black-and-white stripes on their bodies.  Don’t ask me why, but the females are the culprits and they have adapted themselves so that they don’t fly in your face or make a loud humming sound, preferring to come in low and bite in the ankles. These mosquitoes are attracted to perfume and dark clothing, so party animals, beware!


    Aedes aegypti: only the females bite

  3. Because the Aedes mosquito cannot travel far, it is generally accepted that the breeding ground is within the same compound or area, so one should get rid of pools of stagnant water which can collect in empty bottles, cans and plastic wrapping.
  4. You can confirm whether a fever is due to dengue via blood tests although they are not always accurate. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat the tests several times before they become positive. Nevertheless, diminishing numbers of a component of blood cells called platelets is suggestive of dengue.
  5. There is no treatment that can cure dengue. Like in most viruses, its up to one’s body resistance; and this can be enhanced by rest, adequate fluids and measures to reduce the fever.

At the end of the day, prevention is the mainstay. The way not to get dengue is to eliminate the Aedes mosquito if thats at all possible; failing which, to prevent the insect from biting you and passing you the virus..

8 responses

  1. I think many authorities just quarantined all the journalist from reporting, it is no problem already !!!

    With the Internet, such news are harder to contain. But would people panic ? Normally a well informed/educated crowd will not panic, but will take extra precaution. (Thanks to you also, for keeping public inform – ppl like me) . Yes I do go around the house to check out possible breeding ground.

    Have a nice day,


  2. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of civic-mindedness on our part as citizens. It just seems to me that majority of people who live in high risk areas i.e highly populated areas with concrete drainage systems that easily clog or near breeding grounds of mosquitoes/disease vectors just don’t care for their own health. Or they’re just too lazy to even take care of their own backyard.

    I live in a small town where presumably the majority are just a few years removed from the kampung culture where you care abt your neighbours and still have that gotong royong spirit.

    But the majority of my neighbours can’t even be bothered to keep the drain in front of their homes free from any obstruction such as leaves or sand. Some even blatantly throw rubbish in them or just let the drains be clogged by vegetation.

    When people can’t even take care of their own surroundings, how do you expect them to care abt their immediate neighbours.

    Even if I did take care of my immediate environment (which I do), the inaction or laziness of these people still expose me to dengue or any other kind of illnesses spread by insects.

    What makes me angry is these are the same people who will loudly complain that local authority don’t take care of their taman or whatever.

    What do they expect? Maybe we can do it like The Simpsons and have the garbageman come in the house and clean it for us?

  3. […] is not all there is to the original post.  Click here for the whole […]

  4. prevention is the mainstay, means if anyone gets dengue, he or she is just waiting to die, is it?



    Doctor2008: Its not as easy as that. Prevention is always better than cure but not all people infected with the Dengue virus die.

  5. two days ago, i read in the newspaper that dengue has vaccine already, is it true??

    Doctor2008replies : The development of dengue vaccines have been slow. From time to time, we hear reports of the same, depending on what type it is. For example, there are vaccines made from live viruses or even dead ones. The main fear about these vaccines is that there is a real danger of emergence of the more deadly strains which can kill and are immune to the existing vaccines.

  6. I work for a regional community institution and find your written content extremely helpful for initiatives we are running.good work and look forward to much more website posts

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