Amidst the COVID-19 crisis is another danger lurking in Singapore that of Dengue, a viral infection caused by the Aedes mosquito. Dengue Fever is one of the most common mosquito-borne viral diseases in the world.
Reports point out that the early months of this year have already seen a huge spike in dengue cases in Singapore and it is not dengue season yet as the typical dengue season runs from May to September. As on 14th April, 2020 a total of 5,433 dengue cases have been reported, more than double the same period last year. There are presently 103 active dengue clusters reported across the island – NEA
Why Are Dengue Cases On the Rise Here?
A disturbing fact in the dengue situation is the re-emergence of the virus strain DenV-3 in Singapore after 30 years. The last few years have been seeing a switch between the two virus strains predominant here- DenV-1 and DenV-2. This means that most Singaporeans have no immunity against the mosquito-transmitted virus type DenV-3 and experts fear an outbreak as a large proportion of the population is susceptible to dengue.
These facts and figures are sobering and remind us that we can’t afford to be complacent in the battle against dengue even as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The stringent circuit breaker measures put in place to counter the pandemic have in fact compounded the problem as workplaces, schools, commercial buildings, nurseries, places of worship and construction sites are closed for a long period of time and these can potentially turn breeding grounds for mosquitoes if safeguards are not put in place. This has prompted NEA to remind business owners to ensure that adequate vector control measures are taken even during periods of closure to prevent emergence of new clusters.
What Can We Do to Contain a Dengue Outbreak?
As government bodies such as National Environment Agency [NEA] and the Inter-Agency Dengue Taskforce (IADTF) do their bit; we the members of the public also have responsibility to play our part. This is what we can do to keep our homes free from mosquitoes and protect our loved ones from bites:
Vector Control: Prevent Breeding of Mosquitoes
- Maintain cleanliness in our homes, offices and surroundings.
- Ensure that proper housekeeping is done with routine pest control checks and treatments.
- Remove all unwanted, water-bearing receptacles. Cover toilet bowls. As the Aedes mosquito prefers to breed in clean, stagnant water , you can get rid of it by frequently checking and removing stagnant water. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
- Do the 5-STEP Mozzie Wipeout – to prevent breeding and to support vector control measures. Remember, the Aedes mosquito needs only a 20cent sized drop of water to breed.
- Co-operate with NEA officers on home inspections and facilitate checks.
Protect Ourselves and our Loved Ones from Mosquito Bites
- Stay vigilant and updated. Check the official NEA website on latest information about active clusters.
- Avoid going to areas which have been declared dengue hotspots.
- If you live in or need to visit an area that has a dengue cluster, wear full sleeved tops and full pants.
- You can prevent your home from mosquitoes and flying insects by putting screens on windows and doors.
- You can also use insect repellent sprays and or disinfectant sprays within the house to keep creepy-crawlies away. Take special care of dark areas such as corners, behind curtains and under beds and tables.
- When stepping out, use a mosquito repellent cream on the skin or mosquito patches on the clothes. Mosquito repellents with DEET (diethyltoluamide) as an active ingredient has been proved most effective in repelling mosquitoes, ticks, leeches and other insects that bite.
- However for sensitive skin or children’s delicate skin, explore the option of using products that use essential oils instead. Many essential oils such as citronella, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, whitewood and lavender have been found effective in repelling mosquitoes and other bugs naturally. One popular brand in Singapore is Twinkle Baby. Their products are infused with essential oils and are effective in keeping mosquitoes and bugs away. Check Twinkle’s Multi-purpose Spray and their 3 in 1 Hand+Body Sanitizer.