Mosquitoes may be tiny, but getting bitten by some of them can wreak havoc to our health.
Every year, vector-borne diseases, such as diseases spread by mosquitoes, kill more than 700,000 people worldwide, and is responsible for 17% of the estimated global burden of infectious diseases. In a tropical region like Singapore, our hot and humid weather makes it easy for mosquitos to thrive and breed, bringing this threat closer to home than you may think.
It is important to seek medical help immediately if you suspect you may be infected. Learn to recognise the signs of five of the deadliest mosquito-borne diseases to watch out for in our region:
1. Dengue Fever
A viral disease, dengue fever is endemic to Singapore and is transmitted through infected Aedes mosquitoes. Unfortunately, getting dengue once doesn’t mean you’re immune to it — in fact, you may be infected with dengue up to four times in your life. Additionally, dengue may get quite severe, especially amongst elderly folks or people with existing medical conditions. There is currently no cure or vaccine for the disease.
Find out more about common myths around dengue, so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from falling ill.
Symptoms (usually appears 4 – 7 days after infection)
- Sudden fever for 2 to 7 days
- Severe headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint and muscle aches and pain
- Skin rash
- Mild bleeding
Zika is transmitted through an infected Aedes mosquito’s bite. While most who are infected may only experience mild symptoms, zika can cause pregnancy complications if a pregnant mother is infected. It can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her fetus; and may cause birth defects in the child. Currently, there’s no available vaccine or medication for Zika.
Symptoms (usually appears 3 – 14 days after infection)
- Joint and muscle pain
- Red eyes
Spread through the bite of an infected anopheles mosquito, malaria can result in quite serious illness, especially when it’s left untreated. As a preventive measure, you can get vaccinated against malaria or take antimalarial drugs to decrease your risk of being infected, if you’re travelling through a country with higher rates of malaria.
Symptoms (usually appears 7 days – 1 month after infection)
- Shaking chills (moderate to severe)
- High fever
- Intense sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal and muscle pain
- Diarrhoea and bloody stools
4. Yellow Fever
Caused by the yellow fever virus, yellow fever is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Most infected individuals tend to be asymptomatic or have mild illnesses; although there are a small number of patients who may experience more severe symptoms, that could even lead to death. An effective way to reduce your risk of yellow fever is to get vaccinated — a single dose would give you lifelong immunity against the disease.
Symptoms (usually appears 3 – 6 days after infection)
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
- Joint and muscle aches
5. Chikungunya Fever
Mostly commonly transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, the Chikungunya fever is a viral disease that causes sudden fever and severe joint pain. Most patients start to recover from their symptoms within a week, although symptoms may be severe at times. There currently isn’t a vaccine for this illness.
Symptoms (usually appears 3 – 7 days after infection)
- Sudden fever
- Severe joint pain
- Muscle pain
Whether you’re in Singapore or are travelling across the region, it’s good to be proactive about preventing mosquito bites. Simple actions such as applying insect repellent when you are outdoors and regularly clearing away stagnant water in your home can help to decrease the risk of falling ill from mosquito-borne diseases.
If you are feeling unwell or suspect that you’re suffering from any of these conditions, it’s good to seek medical advice as soon as you can. It’s easy to get medical support on the DA app, across the region. Consult a doctor on the DA app whenever you need if you’re in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillippines, Vietnam or Thailand.