Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.


"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

4:2 Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever

In 1960, soon after I got over my operation for perforated duodenal ulcer, dengue haemorrhagic fever appeared for the first time in Singapore and in neighbouring countries, the vector (spreading agent) for which were the mosquitoes Aedes egypti and Aedes albopictus. Dengue was a disease that had been long known, causing fever, headache and severe body pains for which reason it was also known as “Break-bone fever”.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever, however, was almost a different disease although the causative viruses were related. In dengue haemorrhagic fever the patients occasionally go into severe shock because of rapidly falling blood pressure that results in death. Such patients often had bleeding into the skin that caused skin blotches or tiny little spots. It turned out that there were at least four variants of dengue virus, some more apt to cause haemorrhagic fever and shock, but it was not possible by tests on a patient’s blood to determine which variant was causing the illness. There seemed to be no animal reservoir for dengue viruses so the disease had to be spread from human to human. How an epidemic started was not easy to determine, but that Aedes mosquitoes spread the disease was clear.

After many attempts we isolated dengue viruses from mosquitoes caught in the open. The control of mosquito breeding places near human habitations brought down the number of cases of dengue, but cases continue to occur though the years and early recognition of patients likely to go into shock enabled prompt treatment and reduced fatalities.

Editor’s note: The researchers went out to trap mosquitoes at various places in the countryside. For this purpose there was a blue van belonging to the Department of Microbiology. It was called the “mosquito van” and parked at our home in College Road, sometimes occasionally used for the Prof’s own affairs.

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