Ask anyone staying in Klang Valley if they or any of their friends or family members have contracted dengue before, I would say that at least 95% or more of these people would say yes!! Yours truly here is one of those who suffered from dengue before along with my husband, step daughter, step son and eldest daughter (who had dengue the same time with me!!!)
Dengue has now became the fastest expanding mosquito borned infection on the planet, with at least 390 million people infected yearly, way surpassing malaria ...
And as of 17th May 2015, there were already a shocking 43,126 cases of dengue reported in Malaysia only, a 34% increase compared to the same reporting period last year in 2014, according to the Department of Health Malaysia.
Even more scarier, the fatalities caused by dengue is almost 50% higher in the first quarter of 2015 with 136 deaths reported compared to 2014!!
Sanofi Pasteur in conjunction with the ASEAN Dengue Day which falls on the 15th of June, hosted a media workshop to share new and to reveal local attitudes and insights to the dengue epidemic gripping our country...
In his welcome address to all the workshop participants, Mr Baptiste De Clarens, Managing Director of Vaccines for Sanofi Pasteur (Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) said that with the current uptrend of dengue infections in Malaysia, building awareness is of utmost importance.
It is a community responsibility to step in and remind Malaysians the danger of dengue so that they can understand and take steps to protect themselves and their love ones from this epidemic that is constantly running through our nation.
An Unleashed Epidemic: ALL Are At Risk
Misconception #1: Only the very young and the old are at risk of dengue infection.
TRUTH: Everyone, including young adults are at risk.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection, which causes severe flu-like symptoms. If you do not treat it, it can develop to a potentially deadly hemorrhagic fever.
Carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, dengue is widespread throughout the tropical countries, with local variations in risk caused by rainfall, temperature and unplanned rapid urbanization- all these which are the key factors making Malaysia a high-risk country!! Malaysia is ranked in the top 10 highest dengue-endemic countries in the world!! And you can find all four dengue virus serotypes here!
The Malaysian Attitude But I'm Highly Aware On Dengue
Misconception #2: Malaysians feel that they are Knowledgeable about Dengue
TRUTH: While Awareness on Dengue is at a high, only 11% foresee being at high risk
In a research commisioned by Sanofi Pasteur and conducted by global market research company Ipsos on Dengue: Understanding Consumer Knowledge and Attitudes, findings show that while 96% out of 500 adults interviewed know about dengue, only 38% view it as life threatening and 11% only felt that they were at high risk of contracting dengue.
Those who take preventive measures in keeping their surroundings clean and avoiding water accumulation think that they are not at risk, which is a dangerous assumption as transmission often spreads from an infected human to a mosquito and then to another human.
Speaking during her presentation, Katharine Davis, Managing Director of Ipsos says, " One conclusion that can be drawn from the survey is that most people perceive that they have been contributing sufficiently in preventing the spread of dengue within the parameters of their own responsibility. Parameters here referring to personal accountability in keeping their home environments, gardens and backyards free of mosquito breeding grounds.
Thus more needs to be done to raise awareness that dengue is life threatening; all are at risk and everyone needs to play a more active part in curbing the spread of this disease."
The data shared by Associate Professor Dr Zetti Zainol Rashid, Senior Lecturer & Clinical Microbiologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Faculty of Medicine- University Kebangsaaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC), Kuala Lumpur indicates that more and more young adults are succumbing to dengue infections.
All age groups are affected by dengue with the highest proportion of cases occurring in teenagers and young adults aged between 15- 29 years . While the number of cases in young children is declining, about 90% adults in Malaysia are found to be seropositive, which means dengue antibodies are present and they ahve been infected with dengue previously. Seropositivity rates were also found to be higher with age.
While infection and recovery from one of the four dengue serotypes gives lifelong immunity to that particular strain, subsequent infection orsecondary infection by a different dengue serotype increases the risk of developing severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). Therefore adolescents and young adults are at a higher risk of getting severe manisfestations of dengue infection. High rates of seropositivity in the population suggested that dengue will remain endemic in Malaysia for a long time.
The misconception is that dengue typically affects young children or the old and weak. On the contrary, the more active your lifestyle, the more you are at risk. Many young adults along their busy active daily routines could be bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito just by going about their day...
But I Won't Die From Dengue
Misconception #3: Dengue is Not Life Threatening
TRUTH: There is No Known Cure for Dengue, Early Detection Saves Lives
Severe dengue cause organ damage, severe bleeding, dehydration and even death. World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 500,000 people are hospitalized each year due to severe dengue and about 2.5% of those infected die.
Once you survive your first dengue infection, you are immune to that particular type of virus but not to the other three types. Someone re-infected is also more likely to develop extreme symptoms.
Professor Datin Dr Chia Yook Chin from the Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine University Malaysia Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur (UMMC) shared that patients with the most adverse symptoms of dengue are often the result of late detection.
Coming down with dengue can be quite debilitating for even the healthiest person. It is common for patients to complain about pain, nausea, exhaustion and stress out worrying themselves over platelet levels. We Malaysians have to bear in mind that there is no cure for dengue, and the only way to recover from the infection is up to your own body's immune system.
Early detection is vital in limiting the effects of the dengue virus. Seek medical attention if you feel if you may have contracted dengue fever to enable easy and better management of the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
To date there is no specific antiviral treatment for dengue. Supportive nursing care, careful monitoring and timely management of the patient's symptoms are the standard treatments, Dr Shahnun Ahmad, Associate Medical Director for Sanofi Pasteur Malaysia says.
Dengue cases and dengue deaths can be reduced only via effective education and dissemination of data and facts through mass media and other channels.Curbing the spread of dengue needs a more participatory approach from everyone and the right behavioral actions of those responsible for designing and implementing dengue prevention and control programmes.
For more info on dengue, it causes, symptoms and preventive measures, please visit : www.sanofipasteur.com