Monday, June 26, 2006

The New Paper (24 June 2006) - Number of dengue cases up in May and June

Sent to NEA:

26 June 2006

Now that the number of cases has gone up, I'd suggest NEA put up the "Weekly Cluster List" which was terminated sometime last year or early this year when the number of cases decreased. I hope they will not wait till the outbreak gets out of control before doing so.

I note the largest clusters are at Farrer Court and Victoria Park.



Number of dengue cases up in May and June
Brother hitThen, within a day... sister hit
WHEN they got home, there was a note from their father waiting for them.
By Teh Jen Lee
24 June 2006
WHEN they got home, there was a note from their father waiting for them.
It showed the drawing of a mosquito and read: 'We missed you.'
The brother and sister had a good laugh, but could not hide the painful memories of suffering from dengue.
Mr Joe Choo, 21, a national serviceman, and his younger sister were hit within a day of each other.
Both had spent nearly a week in hospital enduring things like constant jabs of the needle and throwing up.
At one point, things got so bad for Mr Choo that the doctor told him an accidental fall could leave him paralysed as a result of internal bleeding.
Family members being hit by dengue within such a short time of each other may become more common as dengue cases doubled from 43 in early May to 85 last Saturday. (See graphics.)
Recalling his ordeal, Mr Choo said: 'I woke up with a splitting headache and a fever of 39.5 deg C.
'I had diarrhoea and vomitting for the next two days.'
His sleep was interrupted as he had to go to the toilet every hour.
'From my throat all the way down to my stomach, I had this uncomfortable feeling. I felt very weak and had very little appetite,' he said.
There was a taste of bile in his mouth from throwing up too much.
'The loss of fluids made my blood very concentrated. At one point, the doctor told me that if my blood got any thicker, I would get the haemorrhagic form of dengue fever,' said Mr Choo.
Of the 19 who died from dengue last year, many had succumbed to dengue haemorrhagic fever, a more severe form of the viral disease.
Mr Choo's platelet count was also very low, going down to 68 when the normal is 150 to 400.
Platelets are necessary to enable the blood to clot.
An SMS alert was sent out to his church friends, asking them to pray because his platelet count was 'dangerously low'.
He was admitted to the Communicable Disease Centre on 15 Jun. A day later, his 15-year-old sister, Shi Hua, was also hospitalised there, but in a different room.
The Secondary 3 student had fever for six days before her platelet count went below 90 and she had to be admitted to hospital.
She said: 'When my fever started, I had no idea it was dengue.
'It was the first time I had to endure so many needles and blood tests.'
Once, a nurse had to insert the needle three times before finding a vein to take a blood sample.
She was also bored with being cooped up in a single-bed room.
Even after she was discharged on 20 Jun, she was asked to stay at home for a few more days.
She had her brother for company - he was discharged a day earlier but is on hospitalisation leave until Monday.
The siblings have had their blood pressure taken so many times that the equipment left red lines on their forearms. The marks are still visible several days after they were discharged.
Dad Choo Ngiap Lee, 52, who penned the note, was on a work-related trip abroad when his eldest and youngest child fell sick.
His other daughter, aged 17, was spared from the virus.
Said the businessman: 'They go out so often, Joe to NS camp and Shi Hua to school, it's hard to know where they got bitten. If it's at home, I can take care of it but outside, it's hard.'
Mr Choo always makes sure that there are no breeding spots in his Rosyth Road apartment as he regularly checks the potted plants for stagnant water.
Members of his extended family who occupy the same block have also done their part.
His sister, Madam Irene Choo, 49, an administrative clerk, said in Mandarin: 'We've always been careful so we didn't have to do anything extra after my nephew and niece came down with dengue.'
Since last month, dengue cases have surfaced in areas as far apart as Boon Lay Place, Lengkok Bahru, Commonwealth Close, Commonwealth Drive, Phillips Avenue and Serangoon North Avenue 1.
The largest dengue cluster this year was found early this month in Farrer Court and Victoria Park, both of which are residential areas.
Seventeen people came down with dengue fever within a fortnight.
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