NEA issues dengue warning

SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) announced today that with warmer days ahead, an increase in dengue transmission is expected, and urged the public to increase their vigilance and preventive measures against mosquito breeding.

The dengue virus multiplies faster in warmer temperatures due to a shorter virus incubation period in the mosquito, effectively increasing its infective capability, NEA said.

An increase in dengue cases is typical of the May to October period when the weather is warmer. In 2010, dengue cases in this period made up 66 per cent of the total cases that year.

The Government's dengue intervention efforts appear to be working so far, with the number of dengue cases reported here dropping 14.4 per cent for the January to June period this year, as compared to the same period last year.

The number of dengue clusters has also decreased from 170 last year to 120 in the same period.

Nonetheless, as dengue transmission usually peaks every six to seven years, NEA warned that 2012 may still see an increase in cases without the community's vigilance.

Therefore, the public is advised to practice the "10-minute 5-step Mozzie Wipe-out" daily to remove potential mosquito breeding habitats in their homes.

The steps include changing water in vases/bowls and removing water from flower pot plates on alternate days; turning over all water storage containers, covering bamboo pole holders when not in use, clearing blockages and putting insecticide in roof gutters monthly.

NEA would also like to caution the public that everyone is at risk, even those who have contracted dengue fever before.

Immunity will only develop against that particular type of dengue the person was infected with, and thus there is a possibility of contracting dengue a second time.

Residents living in areas with relatively fewer cases of dengue reported in recent years need to be particularly vigilant as they may have little immunity against the predominant circulating serotype DEN-2.

Interested parties can check if their neighbourhood falls under these areas by checking the dengue website at www.dengue.gov.sg.

Alternatively, they can sign up for text message alerts on new dengue clusters, the list of residential areas where dengue is transmitting, in areas of concern to them via www.x-dengue.com.

Those living in risk areas are advised to apply repellent and spray insecticide in places where mosquitoes tend to rest and hide, such as dark corners, underneath beds and furniture, and on curtains.

In addition, the public should alert NEA or their Town Councils on potential breeding habitats in common areas of their neighbourhood.

They can do so via the feedback portal on myENV iPhone app or call the NEA 24-hour Hotline at 1800-2255-632.

NEA said they will be stepping up checks and applying insecticide in areas where stagnant water is not easily drained.

The agency also said common areas in housing estates and public places will be inspected more frequently, and more checks done at construction sites.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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