Five ways to prevent dengue at home
Dengue cases recorded this year have surpassed the total recorded in 2021.
Dengue cases in Singapore have been drastically increasing, with the number of cases from the first four months of 2022 already surpassing the total recorded in 2021.
According to the National Environmental Agency, there are 193 active clusters as of Apr 26. More than 6,000 cases have been recorded in 2022 so far.
Dengue isn’t something to be trivialised. Even those who have gotten it before are not immune to it. It is crucial to know how to avoid mosquitoes from breeding in our homes and lessen our – or even our family members’ – chances of being bitten.
Here are five tips to lower the risk of contracting dengue at home.
1. Remove stagnant water by following the Mozzie Wipeout ‘B-L-O-C-K’ steps
Break up hardened soil. It is a common misconception that mosquitoes can only lay eggs in water. In fact, they are able to do so in wet soil too. So, remember to loosen the soil of your potted plants to prevent stagnant water from accumulating on its surface.
Lift and empty flower pot plates. Excess water from watering plants that drains to pot plates can cause an accumulation of stagnant water. It is essential to remember to clear it, as this is perfect for mosquitoes to breed.
Overturn pails and wipe their rims. We may never know when water might drip or rain might fall into our empty pails. Turning our pails over can help prevent stagnant water from accumulating, which in turns remove a possible breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Change water in vases. The water in our vases may not seem like much, but a puddle of water the size and depth of a 20-cent coin is enough for an Aedes mosquito to breed in. Changing the water regularly, such as every two to three days, won’t allow mosquitoes the perfect habitat to breed.
Keep roof gutters clear and place BTI insecticide inside. Our gutters may sometimes get clogged with debris, causing water to accumulate in the system and become a great breeding ground for mosquitoes. Clearing it will help remove possible stagnant water, and Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) insecticide can kill any mosquito larvae before they can grow into adults.
Aedes mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water and it only takes seven to ten days for the eggs to hatch and turn into fully formed mosquitoes. Therefore, the most effective way to avoid getting dengue, especially at home, is by ensuring that there are no mosquito habitats.
2. Carry out ‘S-A-W’ actions
Apart from clearing all possible mosquito breeding grounds in our house, it is also good to know how to prevent getting bitten by them. This is where the acronym ‘S-A-W’ comes in handy.
Spray insecticide in dark corners around the house. This is because adult mosquitoes usually rest indoors in dark areas such as in closets, under beds and sofas, behind curtains, in storerooms, and in toilets. Aerosol insecticides help kill possible mosquitoes resting in those areas.
Apply insect repellent regularly. Repellent with a DEET concentration of less than 10 per cent will protect you for about two hours, while a 20 to 40 per cent concentration will protect you for four to six hours.
Wear long-sleeve tops and long pants. While Singapore may be a little too hot for long sleeved clothing, it’s a small price to pay for dengue prevention.
By adhering to these three steps, it lessens the risk of getting bitten by an Aedes mosquito.
3. Invest in insect screens
While a tip to prevent mosquitoes from entering our homes is to keep our doors and windows closed as much as possible, it may be tough to carry out given Singapore’s hot and humid weather. We can’t be expected to have our air conditioners turned on 24/7 either.
Thus, the most viable alternative would be to set up insect screens. This way, mosquitoes are kept out while fresh air can still come in.
4. Subscribe to dengue and Aedes mosquito alerts on myENV app
The myENV mobile application provides integrated information on Singapore’s environment, as well as updates on our water and food services.
Other than covering weather, air quality, alerts on flash floods, water service disruptions and more, the app also provides information on current dengue hotspots and important dengue related alerts.
5. Cooperate with NEA officers during house checks for mosquito breeding habitats
All premises within a dengue cluster will have to be checked for the presence of mosquito breeding habitats, or potential ones.
The dengue inspection officers will identify themselves with their NEA Authority Card and inspect areas of your home under your constant supervision.
These officers are more well-versed in spotting mosquito breeding habitats, so do let them spot check your house for the safety of you and your neighbours.
As we are currently still in a pandemic, dealing with a dengue epidemic on top of COVID-19 is an added hassle. Let’s all do our part to keep ourselves and the people around us safe and healthy, and not put further strain on Singapore’s healthcare sector!
You can also refer to this checklist of preventive measures you can take at home to keep yourself and your family safe.