I used to think that dengue would never affect me - that is, until my loved one got it.
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking the world by a storm, I fear we have been too distracted to focus on the disease that has been quietly breeding in our homes – dengue.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) reported that there have been over 25,000 dengue cases this year, as of Aug 17. This is a record, surpassing the previous high of 22,170 in 2013.
What is especially alarming is that 60 per cent of mosquito breeding is still found in homes, where it can be easily prevented.
Although reports about the prevalence of dengue overwhelm my news feed regularly, and I often walk past posters slapped with pictures of mosquitoes and large red “dengue cluster” words, I never thought twice about it.
That was until my cousin, a 19-year old student at Singapore Polytechnic, got the disease in the middle of last year.
I got to know about it after receiving an ominous message from my grandfather. It read, “Amanda, Truman is in hospital. Down with dengue fever. Will be visiting him tomorrow.”
I stopped in my tracks and thought to myself, “Okay, so my cousin has dengue, but why is he in the hospital? How bad could it be?”
I am usually met with bad jokes and cheeky insults whenever my cousin is around. But when I visited him the next day, all I saw were medical tubes surrounding a pale and listless boy lying in a hospital bed.
The reality of the situation hit me there and then and I realised dengue is no joke.
After Truman recovered, I sought him out to find out more about the ordeal.
He concluded that he must have been bitten near his home in Bukit Panjang.
“The funny thing is – I didn’t even know I was bitten in the first place,” Truman said with a chuckle, before turning serious when I asked about his symptoms.
“It was really bad. High fever, lethargy, nausea and headaches were only the tip of the iceberg. At first, I thought that I could sleep it off but my symptoms only got worse as time passed. At one point, my parents were force feeding me while I lay in bed the whole day. ”
That was when he knew that this was not some run-of-the-mill illness.
He was then brought to a private hospital where he was found to have dengue, shocking both him and his family. He was hospitalised for a week before being sent home to rest and recover.
“Honestly, I thought I could stay at home, watch some Netflix and play games while I recuperated, but I couldn’t even lift up my phone,” he said.
Truman’s mindset towards dengue prior to his unfortunate incident was similar to mine – Indifferent, detached and with a devil-may-care attitude. However, much has changed.
“You would never think that you would be the unlucky one. What are the chances? But if it could happen to me, it could happen to you.”
That incident was a wake up call for me too. I made it a point to ensure that my home is safe for my loved ones by clearing any stagnant water lying in corners of my home. This does not take much effort on my end, but goes a long way in protecting ourselves and others.
Dengue can be a serious threat to our health, so i believe it’s always good to err on the side of caution. After all, prevention is better than cure.
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