NEA warning: Dengue peak season approaching

SINGAPORE - With numbers of dengue cases hitting the 400 mark in the last few weeks, the National Environment Agency (NEA) forecasts that the situation could get worse as the typical dengue peak season approaches.

Last week saw 492 cases, which is a record number of cases since 2005. Den-1 has replaced Den-2 as the predominant circulating dengue serotype and more worryingly, the dengue strains that are circulating since the start of this year appear to exhibit "a higher epidemic potential", NEA said.

In addition, the agency has found higher numbers of breeding spots on premises. Against a backdrop of low immunity among the population, this signals a challenging year ahead as Singapore is expected to enter the dengue peak season with a higher base of cases.

To tackle Den-1 and Den-3 clusters in particular, NEA said it has focused its inspections and operations and started its intensive source reduction exercises in high risk areas to remove actual and potential breeding habitats.

These measures implemented since the start of the year are aimed at reducing the risk of dengue transmission.

NEA said that it is also coordinating with other public agencies within the Inter-Agency Dengue Taskforce to prevent mosquito breeding within their facilities and land.

The agency added that on top of current efforts, community support is critical to stop the chain of dengue transmission and is calling on everybody to do their part to prevent dengue.

"Singapore cannot fight dengue without the community's action to remove mosquito breeding in their homes. The Aedes mosquito breeds in artificial containers mainly found in homes, and its life-cycle averages seven days. Hence it is imperative for all to do the Mozzie Wipeout together once a week to break the breeding cycle," it said it a statement to the media.

The 5-Step "Mozzie Wipeout" is listed below.

1. Change water in vases/bowls on alternate days
2. Turn over all water storage containers
3. Remove water from flower pot plates on alternate days
4. Clear blockages and put BTI insecticide in roof gutters monthly
5. Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use

Dengue Community Alert System

Dengue Community Alert System

The "Mozzie Wipeout" campaign also aims to help raise residents' awareness on active cluster areas through the Dengue Community Alert System.

The system achieves this by making use of colour-coded banners (yellow, red, or green) to indicate the seriousness of the dengue situation in the area and signals corresponding preventive measures to take.

The colour red means that "there are more than a certain number of cases in the neighbourhood" and residents are advised to do the five-step "Mozzie Wipeout" on alternate days.

In addition, they should apply mosquito repellent and wear long pants and sleeves.

The colour yellow means that "there is an outbreak of dengue cases in the neighbourhood" and recommends residents do the five-step "Mozzie Wipeout" once a week.

Similarly, they are advised to apply mosquito repellent and wear long pants and sleeves.

Lastly the colour green means "thank you for your efforts in our fight against dengue and please remain vigilant."

Residents in these areas are advised to do the five-step "Mozzie Wipeout" once a week.

All residents are advised to spray insecticide in dark corners of their homes such as under the bed and sofa, or behind curtains. Apart from doing the Mozzie Wipeout, NEA said that everyone can help by reminding their family members and neighbours to join in the collective efforts.

The "Do the Mozzie Wipeout" campaign will be officially launched on April 28 by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

NEA will also be engaging the public and sending across the message of the importance of dengue prevention through social media platforms.

Members of the public may check dengue.gov.sg for updates, sign up for SMS alerts at x-dengue.com, or join the Stop Dengue Now Facebook group (facebook.com/Stop.Dengue.Now) to connect with other dengue prevention advocates.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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