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Jun 5, 2015

"I'm Not At Risk For Dengue" Media Workshop

I don't know you guys know that actually Dengue has become the most rapidly expanding mosquito-borne infectious disease on the planet, surpassing malaria and infecting at least 390 million people per year. Therefore, there were 43,123 cases of dengue reported in Malaysia, a 34% increase compared agains the same reporting period in 2014 according to the Department of Health, Malaysia. I was honorably invited to "I'm Not At Risk For Dengue" Media Workshop which held at One World Hotel, to share and to reveal local attitudes and insights to the dengue epidemic gripping our country.

Emcee of the day. 

An Unleashed Epidemic: ALL Are At Risk 
Misconception #1: Only the very young and the old are at risk of dengue infection.
TRUTH: Everyone, including young adults are at risk. 

As in commonly known, dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection, which causes severe flu-like symptoms. Left untreated these symptoms can develop into potentially deadly haemorrhagic fever. 

Mr. Baptiste de Clarens, Managing Director of Vaccine for Sanofi Pasteur (Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei) said that With the current uptrend on dengue infections in Malaysia, building awareness is a priority. In 2014, Malaysia saw a big increase in dengue, in fact a three-fold increase from the 2013 numbers. More worrying is the general public apathy that surrounds the topic of dengue. 

Speaking during her presentation, Katharine Davis, Managing Director, Ipsos said: 
One conclusion that can be drawn from the survey is that most people see themselves as contributing sufficiently in preventing the spread of this disease within the parameters of their own responsibility. Parameters here referring to personal accountabitily in keeping their home environments, gardens and backyards free of mosquito breeding grounds.

That being said,more needs to be done to raise awareness that dengue is life threatening; all are at risk and everyone needs to play an active part in curbing the spread of this disease. 

The Malaysian Attitude: But I'm Highly Aware On Dengue 
Misconception #2: Malaysians feel that they are Knowledgeable about Dengue
TRUTH: While Awareness on Dengue is at a high, only 11% foresee being at high risk

More telling is the data shared by Associate Professor Dr Zetti Zainol Rashid, Senior Lecturer & Clinical Microbiologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Faculty of Medicine - University Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre indicationg that more and more young adults are succumbing to dengue infections. 

All age groups are affected by dengue with the highest proportion of cases occurring in teenagers and young adults aged 15 - 29 years. While the number of cases in young children is declining, about 90% adults in Malaysia are found to be seropositive, which means dengue previously. Seropositivity rates were also found to be increased with age. 

The misconception is that dengue typically affects young children or the old and weak. On the contrary. the more active your lifestyle, the more you are at risk. Many young adults, especially with their busy active daily routines could be bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito while going about their day - said Associate Professor Dr Zetti. 

In a presentation titled 'When You Become A Statistic - Dengue Management' Professor Datin Dr. Chia Yook Chin from the Department of Primary Care Medicine, shared that patients with the most adverse symptoms of dengue are often the result of late detection. 

According to Professor Dr. Chia Yook Chin, Coming down with dengue can be quite debilitating for even the healthiest among us. It is not uncommon for most patients to complaint about pain, nauseous, exhaustion and also get stressed out worrying about their platelet levels. Malaysians need to remember that there is no known cure for dengue, and the only way to recover from the infection is up to your body's own immune system. 

Early dection is vital in limiting the effects of the dengue virus. Seek medical attention immediately if you think you may have contracted dengue fever. Early diagnosis and management of symptoms is critical to reduce the risk of complications and avoid further spread of the virus.

But I Won't Die From Dengue 
Misconception #3: Dengue is Not Life Threatening 
TRUTH: There is No Known Cure for Dengue, Early Detection Saves Lives

To date, there is no specific antiviral treatment for dengue. Supportive nursing care, careful monitoring and timely management of patient's symptoms are the standard treatments, said by Dr. Shahnun Ahmad, Associate Medical Director for Sanofi Pasteur Malaysia. 

Dengue cases and dengue death can be reduced only through effective education and dissemination of data and facts through mass media and other channels. Curbing the spread of dengue needs a more participatory approach from everyone and the right behavioural actions of those responsible for designing and implementing dengue prevention and control programmers. 

 In summary, "Malaysians do not feel at high risk of catching Dengue" - only 11% feel at high risk.. 

"Everyone must play an active role in preventing dengue" - it goes beyond the government. Individuals and communities should take an active role in preventing dengue. 

For more info on dengue, it causes, symptoms and preventive measures, please visit : www.sanofipasteur.com

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