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No, Aedes mosquitoes don't zero in on you because your blood is "sweet". Photo: 123RF

Dengue Myths Debunked: Having COVID Won't Prevent You From Getting Dengue

According to the National Environment Agency, as of 22 Aug 2022, there are 227 active dengue clusters, 76 of which have a “Red” Alert Level. A “Red” zone is considered a high-risk area with 10 or more cases.

As someone who’s been suay enough to have kena dengue twice, I take every precaution not to get bitten again, especially when the weather vacillates between sunny and stormy like it so often does in Singapore.

Since my second dengue episode at the start of the year, I’ve been burning mosquito coils daily and placing them at my feet (yes, I work from home), and spraying myself with mosquito repellent in an attempt not to get bitten again by Aedes mosquitoes (which transmit the disease).

I often wonder, am I being punished for being a lizard in my previous life, which ravenously discontinued lineages of mozzies? Do I attract mozzies because my blood is “sweet”? Will getting a UV-light bug zapper be my ultimate defence against dengue?

Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive of Science Centre Singapore is here to debunk these and other myths – well, maybe not the one about my possible reptilian past.

If you're a fan of bubble tea, don't worry! Mozzies aren't attracted to "sweet" blood, says Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng of Science Centre Singapore.Photo: Science Centre Singapore

MYTH: I get bitten because my blood is “sweet”, and the Aedes mosquito homes in on those with “sweet” blood.

It’s not the sugar or sweetness in your blood that attracts the mosquito but your blood type. Studies have suggested that mosquitoes are attracted to individuals with Type O and Type B blood. If you find yourself under the constant attack of nasty bites, avoid wearing colours such as black or red - mosquitoes are attracted to them.

MYTH: I have COVID-19 now, so yay! I won’t kena dengue.

Though both dengue and COVID-19 share similar symptoms, it is possible to be co-infected with both viruses at the same time. As a matter of fact, contracting both viruses may also cause tremendous stress on the body, leading to catastrophic outcomes. If you’re under the suspicion of being co-infected with both viruses, it’s always a good idea to get tested for your personal safety, and to keep your family and loved ones safe.


MYTH: I’ve kena dengue before, so I’ll be immune!

It is possible to be infected with dengue more than once. There are four different strains of the virus, and a person only builds immunity to the particular strain that they are infected with.

It is also likely for dengue reinfections to be more fatal than previous ones, because individuals infected with a different strain may develop a condition called the Antibody-dependent Enhancement. When this happens, it increases the ability of a virus to enter cells, thus making the infection worse.

In the battle against dengue, prevention is better than cure. If you’re going on long walks, or taking a stroll at the park, do it with a mosquito patch or spray on some repellent. A little effort goes a long way.

MYTH: My home is not near a long kang or large body of stagnant water, and I don’t keep plants. I’m safe!

We’re all familiar with the Aedes mosquitoes laying eggs in stagnant water in roof gutters and flower pots. But did you know that the Aedes mosquitoes can also lay eggs in tiny puddles of water as small as a 20-cent coin? They can even lay eggs in pockets of water trapped in the crevices between floor tiles. As a rule of thumb, it’s always wise to keep things dry.

MYTH: I have the ultimate protection from dengue: a UV-light bug zapper!

You may feel fulfilled and dengue-free after purchasing that shiny new bug zapper during the latest Mega Sale Day on your favourite e-commerce platform. Unfortunately, the Aedes mosquito isn’t attracted to the UV light in most bug zappers.

To make matters worse, the bug zapper may even be killing useful and harmless insects, taking a toll on our ecosystem. To drive away mosquitoes, you may consider using fragrances such as citronella, lemon or lavender to repel them instead.

On a related note...

Photo: 123RF

8 Symptoms To Look Out For When Dengue Becomes Life-Threatening

Warning signs of DHF usually start showing up within 48 hours of recovering from the initial virus, typically as the fever reduces to below 38⁰. Lethargy, persistent vomiting, elevated red blood cell count (haematocrit) and a low platelet count are all indicative signs that someone is more likely to develop DHF. Tap the link above for a list of DHF symptoms to look out for.

Photo: Unsplash/@daiga_ellaby

Plants That Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Home

Tap the link above for a list of under-rated plants and herbs that will help you keep mosquitoes at bay. We’re talking about plants like citronella, lavender, peppermint and lemon balm.

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