With two recent cases of dengue fever in Hong Kong announced just a week after the HK government’s recent announcement of achieving Ebola readiness, the incidence of dengue fever is now present in Hong Kong. A recent outbreak of the disease stemming from the Aedes mosquito in Guangzhou has HK residents on end. We’ve got tips on how to avoid the dreaded disease to keep you in the know about what is dengue fever and how to keep safe.
What is dengue fever?
It’s a severe, flu-like illness that’s transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito.
What does an Aedes mosquito look like?
It has black and white stripes on its body.
What are the symptoms?
It usually takes four to seven days before a person infected with the virus starts to show symptoms. They might experience a sudden onset of fever (which can last for up to seven days). This can be accompanied by headaches, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and a rash.
Can dengue fever be life-threatening?
Severe infections can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which causes bleeding and can result in death. Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) warn that due to climate change, dengue haemorrhagic fever will rise in the years to come.
Is it infectious?
No, not person-to-person. The virus is passed on to humans only when they are bitten by an infective female Aedes mosquito; likewise, the mosquito generally acquire the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person.
What should I do if I think I have dengue fever?
Visit a doctor, rest and drink plenty of fluids. Try to stay away from areas where there are mosquitoes, to avoid being bitten and thus spreading the virus to other people. If you develop severe pain or persistent vomiting, go to a hospital immediately.
Can I be immunised against it?
No. However, there are four strains of the virus here; having been infected by one usually gives lifelong immunity to only that type, but only short-term immunity to the others.
What’s the best prevention?
Avoid getting bitten. Apply insect repellent before you enter areas where there are mosquitoes. On alternate days, remove water from flowerpots, vases, toilet brush holders and empty anything that stores or collects water outside; stagnant water is where mosquitoes breed. If you are going on holidays, put the lid of the toilet down.
Visit the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) website to access the Hong Kong monthly Ovitrap readings data.
If you feel that your workplace or home is breeding the Aedes mosquito, contact the Centre for Health Protection Dengue Fever Hotline, Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm, +852 2125 1122.