Death of 11-year-old from dengue is rare: Experts

Parents are advised to take their children to the doctor early if they exhibit dengue symptoms, which include fever, joint and muscle pains, nausea and rashes.
Parents are advised to take their children to the doctor early if they exhibit dengue symptoms, which include fever, joint and muscle pains, nausea and rashes.PHOTO: REUTERS

Children with healthy immune systems usually recover, they say

The death of an 11-year-old of dengue in August was a rare case, said experts. Children, especially if they have healthy immune systems, usually survive the disease.

Still, they advised parents to take their children to the doctor early if they exhibit dengue symptoms, which include fever, joint and muscle pains, nausea and rashes.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that an 11-year-old boy who lived in Woodleigh Close, off Upper Serangoon Road, was admitted to KK Women's and Children's Hospital on Aug 30 and died that day.

Of the other seven dengue deaths this year, six involved people in their 60s or 70s, and the remaining case involved a 47-year-old man.

The mosquito-borne dengue viral infection that causes a flu-like illness can sometimes develop into the potentially lethal severe dengue.

 

Infectious diseases expert Leong Hoe Nam, from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said dengue deaths in children are less common here because of how easy it is to get to a hospital. "Children lose liquids very fast because of their smaller size and weaker constitution," he said. "In Singapore, this (problem) is negated because of easy access to hospitals."

In comparison, the elderly are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that make it harder to fight off the disease. "All people get lower immunity as they get older," said dengue expert Tikki Pang, a visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

MOH revealed the boy's death after a pathologist confirmed on Tuesday what caused it.

"Although uncommon, there have been previous cases of children aged 12 and below passing away due to dengue," said an MOH spokesman without giving details.

Professor Pang said the public should not be overly worried.

"Out of a hundred people who get dengue, only one or two will get severe dengue," he said. Less than 1 per cent of this group die.

There have been 12,187 dengue cases so far this year, with 23 cases of severe dengue reported as of last Saturday.

"Persons showing symptoms suggestive of dengue should see a doctor early for assessment," said MOH yesterday. It added that the public should take precautions against mosquito bites, and continue to stamp out breeding spots.

People living along Woodleigh Close said mosquitoes are not an issue, with condominium residents adding that their estate is fogged regularly. Condo resident Ryan Hong, 53, does his best to ensure there is no standing water in his home. "I make sure my area is controlled to the best of my ability," said the chef.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Death of 11-year-old from dengue is rare: Experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe