Children and dengue – what to look out for

The current situation

Unfortunately we are experiencing a very high number of dengue cases. The latest figures plus clusters can be found on the National Environment Agency website.

What is dengue?

Dengue is a tropical viral disease caused by any one of the four serotypes of the virus but is carried by Aedes mosquitoes and children catch it through the bite of an infected mosquito. The prevalence of dengue is on the rise in Singapore and is expected to even rise higher in coming months.

How do parents recognise dengue in children?

Many children with dengue fever will not have any symptoms. Some may have mild symptoms that appear anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms are generally mild in younger children and those who are infected with the disease for the first time. Older children, adults and those who have had a previous infection may have moderate to severe symptoms and may develop a serious life threatening illness called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF).

Symptoms typically last 2-7 days and can range from:

  • Low to high grade fever, possibly as high as 40ºC
  • Body aches, pain in muscles and bones
  • Severe headache
  • Rash over body
  • Mild bleeding from nose or gums
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Easy bruising
  • Change in behaviour/ irritability

Concerned your child may have dengue?

If you think your child’s symptoms may be caused by dengue, call your doctor immediately. They will evaluate the symptoms and examine your child and if needed can order a test. At  IMC Children’s clinic we can offer an In-clinic Rapid Dengue Test for the quick diagnosis of dengue.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment available for dengue fever itself. Medical care will treat the symptoms. In mild cases we recommend lots of fluids and plenty of rest. Pain relievers can ease the headaches and bone pains.

Most cases resolve within a week or two and won’t cause any lasting problems however if symptoms get worse seek immediate medical care.

How can you prevent your child getting dengue?

There is no cure for this illness, the only way to protect our children is by preventing them from being bitten by infected mosquitoes.

Dr Shivani Paliwal is a US trained paediatric doctor based at IMC Children’s. Please call 68874440 to make an appointment.

[Article updated 1 Sept 2020]



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