Fight against chikungunya targets roofs
Lee Hui Chieh
Tue, Feb 05, 2008
The Straits Times

THE battle against the mosquito-borne, dengue-like disease, chikungunya, has hit the roofs.

Over the last 10 days, 340 shophouse owners in Little India have been told to remove damaged or poorly maintained roof gutters on their properties.

Of these, 180 have already done so, while eight others were fined $2,000 each for refusing to comply.

They could have been fined up to $20,000, or jailed up to three months.

The rest have asked for more time to remove their gutters, citing difficulties in engaging workers during the Chinese New Year season, the chairman of the National Environment Agency (NEA), Associate Professor Simon Tay, said on Tuesday during a tour of shops in Little India.

Prof Tay said that most of the shopkeepers have been cooperative, as they realised that 'the reputation of Little India is at stake', and the outbreak was affecting their businesses.

'We need that kind of ownership. We cannot inspect every single house, we really have to work with them to make sure that their housekeeping is better,' he added.

Roof gutters can collect rain water and breed the Aedes mosquito, which transmits chikungunya, as well as dengue.

Since the first case of chikungunya was reported on Jan 14, 11 others have been infected by the viral disease that causes symptoms similar to dengue, such as fever, joint pains and nausea.

Before this outbreak, all 13 previous cases had been infected overseas, and did not spread here.

Since Jan 14, the NEA has inspected more than 4,700 properties, and destroyed 75 mosquito breeding sites.

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