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Should we worry about dengue deaths? Yes. Here's why.

The headlines today in The New Paper asked if we should worry about the two dengue deaths that occurred in less than two weeks.

Yes, we should. Reason? Both victims were initially diagnose as not having dengue.

Wrote Channel NewsAsia for victim number 1,

Mr Ang was seen at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's (TTSH) Emergency Department (ED) on 23 May and diagnosed as having viral fever, said the statement.

His condition was reported to be stable and he was discharged with advice to return to the ED if his symptoms worsened.

He was also asked to visit an outpatient clinic for follow up and a repeat blood test.

About victim number 2,

He was a 60-year-old Singaporean, who was admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital on 5 June.

The patient suffered from fever, shortness of breath, vomiting and rashes on his left leg.

He was diagnosed with skin inflammation of the left leg and prescribed with antibiotics.

On 7 June, the man returned to the hospital due to weakness in his left leg and continuing fever and loss of appetite.

The biggest problem with dengue is that one can only be confirmed with dengue via a blood tests. The physical symptoms would sometimes result in incorrect diagnoses.

I know because when I was down with dengue earlier in the year, I had the symptoms, the body rashes, fever, etc, but the first GP diagnose me as having viral fever, same as the first victim. I decided to go for a second opinion where the other GP suspected it was dengue and asked me to go straight to the nearest hospital for blood test.

It was at Changi Hospital that I had a blood test and it was determined that I had dengue. Fortunately, my blood platelet count wasn't that low so I was discharged after a being on the drip for 1 hour.

My second blood test, a few days later, at a polyclinic showed that my blood platelet was back to normal and I was on the road to recovery.

There are three phases of dengue, Febrile, Critical and Recovery. You can read more here.

From my experience with dengue, this was how I was affected and reacted to the phases.

During the Febrile phase, I found myself suddenly down with a high fever. I suspected I had the flu as I was caught in the rain the previous night. Never once did I suspect it was due to dengue.

After two days, my fever was gone, thinking I have recovered though I was still weak and lethargic. I still went for business meetings and walked under the hot sun.

It was a two-three days after the fever that the rashes started to appear. Usually after a fever, we think that we would have recovered. But for dengue, this is the Critical phase.

There are more details from the link I shared above, but in simple layman terms, which the Doctor at Changi Hospital explained that this was a period where my platelet would go down to dangerous levels which I even need a blood transfusion.

It was only went the rashes appeared that I went to a GP. As mentioned earlier, first GP diagnosed it as viral fever, but a second opinion suggested I head straight to the hospital for a blood test.

If your fever comes with the following symptoms, please request for your GP to do a blood test or prepare a letter that says you suspect you have dengue to get your through the emergency ward faster.

  • Facial flushing
  • Skin erythema (redness of the skin due to congestion of the tiny blood vessel)
  •  Generalized body ache
  • Myalgia (Muscular pain)
  • Arthralgia  (pain in joints)
  • Headache
For me, the symptoms were the Skin Erythema, Myalgia and Headache, symptoms of a viral fever. 

However, given how dengue is in high numbers these days, it is better to be safe than sorry. 


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