HEALTH ALERT: Why Singaporean parents should be really concerned about dengue this year

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The NEA has announced that the number of dengue cases in Singapore will be unusually high this year due to three factors coming together...

Mums and dads, gird your loins and get prepared to battle a tiny, yet potentially deadly enemy — the Aedes mosquito, which is the carrier of the dengue virus.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has issued a must-heed warning. The number of dengue infections this year is expected to be high, and the cases are also expected to spike earlier than in previous years.

This is due to three factors coming together, says a Straits Times report: “large numbers of infections in what is usually the low season, increases in the mosquito population and a change in the dominant viral strain.”

The NEA says on its website: “We are starting off the year with an unusually high base of dengue cases; 459 cases were reported in the final week of 2015.”

According to the latest available figures (last week), 345 cases have already been reported. Also, since 2013, the dominant virus spread by the Aedes mosquito was Den-1. But now, “more than two-thirds are due to the Den-2 strain, which marks a significant shift.”

 In a Times of India report, Dr Jayanti Shastri, head of microbiology at BYL Nair Hospital is quoted as saying that “DEN-2 is associated with more severity world over; more so in south-east Asia.”

Tampines is Singapore’s biggest dengue hotspot

Last week, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, visited his constituency of Tampines GRC, which is also Singapore’s biggest dengue cluster. 195 people here have been infected so far.

He reportedly said the NEA found 86 breeding sites in the cluster. Of these, 60 were in homes, and only one at a construction site.

Furthermore, “of the 195 cases in the cluster, 81 are foreigners working at the Downtown Line 3 construction site, and the rest are residents. Some of the problem areas include Tampines Avenue 4 with 82 cases, and Tampines Street 91 with 24.”

Mr Masagos said in a Facebook post: “We found adult mosquitoes and larvae in some of the Gravitraps, indicating a high level of mosquito activity, despite three rounds of home inspections and destruction of breeding habitats.

“We need to prevent mosquito breeding. But NEA officers and town councils cannot achieve this alone.”

The NEA advises people living in active dengue clusters to use repellents to reduce the risk of contracting the disease. And of course, as we all know, keeping our immediate environments clean is crucial to reducing/ eliminating breeding hot-spots.

dengue spike in singapore 2016

Dengue spike in Singapore 2016: Dengue can seriously affect a child’s health and can even be fatal if not treated appropriately.

Tips for parents

  • Keep your house clean and dry
  • Dress your child in long sleeved tops and full-length trousers for minimal skin exposure, especially during peak mosquito biting times (early morning and evening)
  • Dress your child in light-coloured clothes (dark colours attract mosquitoes)
  • Use a mosquito net while you sleep
  • Throw away wet garbage such as vegetable stalks, fruits peels etc., regularly
  • Clean out any flower pots and throw out dead plants.
  • Clean out any surfaces that have a possibility of collecting stagnant water. There could be mosquitoes breeding in your indoor pot plant water-collectors, the area under air-conditioning vents or even the dog’s water bowl.
  • Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes
  • Experiment with placing mosquito repellent plants around the house, ensuring at the same time water does not collect around the plant or in its pot.

Useful links

Symptoms and protection

Proliferation of dengue

Global news

How do you stop the spread of dengue in and around your home? Share your tips in a comment below. 

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