What I found out while trying to deal with mosquitoes during the circuit breaker
Learn more facts about these buzzing menaces and how you can protect yourself from dengue.
While the past month and a half of circuit breaker has been a blur for me, what has kept me painfully aware that I’m awake has been the blistering heat and the prickling itch of mosquito bites.
There has been a spike of dengue cases this year, with the total cases since January exceeding 6900. Anecdotally, while mosquitos bites have always been a constant hassle, the last few months have been particularly grating.
To combat the seemingly endless swarm, I have employed all sorts of repellents – patches, sprays, coils, and even tried a mosquito repellent app (I mean, it’s the digital era now, right?). To lower the electric bills, I have avoided turning on the air conditioner and instead took frequent showers to ease the itching.
Yet, nothing seemed to put a stop to them.
Being rather concerned of the mosquito-borne disease, I took to the Internet to find out why there has been a spike of mosquitoes buzzing around, some facts about mosquitoes and dengue, and ways to keep them all at bay.
Why are there so many mosquitoes around?
In general, warmer weather conditions encourage faster breeding and maturation cycles of mosquitoes. They don’t require much to breed either, with a 20 cent coin-sized drop of water being all it needs.
These few months – May, in particular – also happens to be the warmest months of the year. Coupled with the frequent rainfalls leaving all-too-many pockets of 20 cent coins around, it creates the optimal conditions for mosquitoes to thrive.
What makes mosquito bites so itchy?
When mosquitoes bite, they both draw out blood and inject foreign substances into the body. In response, the body releases the compound histamine to fight them off. However, this will also cause itchiness in the process.
Ironically, what makes these bites unbearably itchy is when we try to find relief in scratching them, as scratching them will release more histamine and cause more swelling and itching. Not only that, there will also be the risk of breaking the skin and causing an infection.
A few facts about dengue and what we can do to combat it (and the itching)
Out of about 140 species of mosquitoes identified in Singapore, only the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus can transmit the dengue disease. If you do manage to swat and kill one of these pests, they can be identified by similar looking black and white stripes on their bodies and legs.
While there are no drugs to combat the disease, early detection can help alleviate dengue symptoms. These include high fever, severe headaches, and vomiting. Even if the high fever does subside, most of the serious complications of the disease are known to develop within two days.
If you or a family member display symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Unlike COVID-19, dengue cannot be transmitted from person to person but still do take extra precautions when bringing your loved ones to the doctor during this period of time.
Thanks to the NEA, methods to combat dengue have grown to be common knowledge for most Singaporeans. However, it needs to be done repeatedly, especially with current weather patterns.
The increased rainfall might mean more water trapped in pails, stray containers, or areas around the house. The circuit breaker might also mean more cooking done in the kitchen, leaving more opportunities of water trapped in dish drying racks, utensil holders, or even plastic bags.
As for the itch, consider dabbing the bite with rubbing alcohol, or use calamine lotion for relief.
For the latest updates on Singapore’s fight against dengue and tips to combat the disease, follow NEA Stop Dengue Now on Facebook.
With the heat and rain, it’s unlikely that repellents alone will put an end to these buzzing menaces. Constant vigilance in keeping the house dengue-free would be necessary. And just like the country’s bout with COVID-19, keeping dengue at bay will be a community effort.