Petaling Jaya – Medical practitioners are being alerted that the symptoms for dengue fever have changed from just fever, rash, headache and body ache to include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai told theSun today that the ministry has encountered several cases here where patients died as a result of dengue fever after suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, without displaying the normal symptoms.
“We have had cases where patients died after suffering from the new symptoms,” he said, adding that two such cases recently at Kuala Lumpur Hospital were a 14-year-old boy and a woman in her 30s.
“They came in when their condition worsened as private clinics were treating them for food poisoning,” said Jeyaindran, who advised doctors both in public and private hospitals as well as clinics to be aware of these new symptoms of dengue fever.
He said a “Dengue Rapid Clerking Sheet” or checklist has been posted on the ministry’s website for doctors to check against a patient’s symptoms and ascertain if he or she is suspected of suffering from dengue.
Jeyaindran also advised doctors not to just focus on platelet count for dengue diagnosis but also do a “haematocrit”, also known as packed cell volume (PCV) or erythrocyte volume fraction (EVF), in trying to detect the disease in a patient.
Meanwhile, Jeyaindran called for public cooperation to handle the dengue crisis.
He said a recent study by the ministry revealed that about 70% of people who suffered from dengue fever were bitten by aedes mosquitoes within the confines of their own homes.
“So, for their own protection, people should ensure there are no potential mosquito breeding sites inside or in the vicinity of their homes,” he said, adding that some of the places where aedes mosquitoes were found breeding were in unused toilet bowls, water tanks, refrigerator draining trays, gutters, barrels, drums, jars, pots, buckets, flower vases, plant saucers, discarded bottles, tyres and even water coolers.
“This can be easily prevented if people take a few minutes off their busy schedule to clean or throw away stagnant water,” he said.
“House owners can take precaution by using mosquito repellent vaporizer, insecticide spray or even mosquito coil, especially from 6am to 8am and 6pm to 8pm when aedes mosquitoes are active,” he said, adding that those going out during these hours should wear light-coloured clothings, preferably with long sleeves.
Jeyaindran warned that another resurgence of dengue will hit the nation soon as the weather changes from heavy rainfall to intermittent rain and scorching heat.
In the third week of this year alone, there were 8,502 dengue cases reported nationwide, an increase of 65% compared with 5,141 cases during the same period last year.
There were also 20 deaths compared to seven during the same period in 2014, and the increase in fatalities has also been attributed to change in dengue serotype shift from DEN 2 to DEN 1.
There are four distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4).
Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that particular serotype. However, cross-immunity to the other serotypes after recovery is only partial and temporary. Subsequent infections by other serotypes increase the risk of developing severe dengue. – The Sun