While the average number of Covid-19 patients in the community has been on a downward trajectory for the last few weeks, we should not rejoice too soon. A silent killer is on the rise, and it is a cause for concern. We are talking about Dengue, and Singapore is on track to experience its highest infection numbers in history. Recognising the severity, Outside is here to provide you with some quick context and great tips to avoid that sting!
Why so many cases this year?
As of 29 August, there are 27,280 cumulative dengue cases this year. This has exceeded the high infection numbers of 22,170 in 2013, the year we faced a dengue epidemic. A couple of reasons could possibly explain why the number of dengue infections are so high this year.
Firstly, the volatile weather conditions for the last few months is one of the factors. The combination of the blazing hot sun and the sudden rain provide mosquitos the ideal condition for mosquito breeding. Secondly, although the month of circuit breaker gave us time to hone our TikTok dancing skills and baking skills, staying at home has also resulted in more residential mosquito breeding. Moreover, since the Aedes mosquito that carries the dengue strain is active in the day, the circuit breaker has increased the chances for the mosquitos to feed on people in the household.
Hence, being at home does not make us less susceptible to dengue infections, and in some ways could increase our chances of infection!
Dengue vs. Covid-19 – Which is more severe?
|No. of reported cases in Singapore
|No. of deaths in Singapore
|Covid-19*Updated as of 29 Aug 2020
|Dengue *Updated as of 29 Aug 2020
We all know that Covid-19 has a high mortality rate. But did you know that the dengue infection has an equally, if not higher mortality rate than Covid-19 on our shores?
Compared to Covid-19, the dengue death rate in Singapore is almost twice as high! This proves that a dengue infection is something that cannot be taken lightly. It is no wonder that the government and relevant agencies are stepping up in prevention efforts.
How to effectively protect yourself against a dengue infection?
If you’ve managed to read up to this point, you might be feeling scared and wondering what you should do next so as to not be the Aedes mosquito’s next meal. Not to fear, here are three practices and three items that can protect you from the mozzies!
It is scary to think that a puddle of water as small as a 20-cent coin is sufficient for mosquitoes to breed and multiply. Dengue prevention can start with you from home. Here are three simple tips you can practice:
- Turn over or clear water storage containers when not in use
Source: Hot Dog on a Leash
Water storage containers such as pails, watering cans, pet water bowls and dish racks are all potential areas that can collect water. By clearing water storage containers, you can effectively prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs and starting a cluster.
A good habit is to clear the water in containers and turn them over the moment that they are not in use. For pet owners, it is also a good habit to wash and replace the water in pet water bowls every day.
- Putting down the toilet bowl lid
Source: NEA Stop Dengue Now
According to NEA, one of the top five breeding places for mosquitos in homes are in toilet bowls or cisterns. Mosquitos will find any place with stagnant water to breed, and it is no wonder that the toilet is a popular place for mosquitos.
However, we don’t need to give the mozzies an upper hand. This simple act of putting down the toilet bowl lid can help with dengue prevention!
Also, if you have a toilet in the house that is not commonly used, do check the toilet bowl and the surrounding area regularly to ensure that unwanted mosquitos aren’t breeding.
- Take extra precaution if you own flowers and potted plants
Source: The Straits Times
From vases to flowerpot plates and the hardened soil in potted plants, these are all places where mosquitoes love to breed. It is good practice to check on your plants every alternate day. Some things to check include:
- The inside of vases and plant roots for mosquito eggs
- Ensuring that the water inside flower vases are changed on alternate days
- Emptying flower pot plates that collect water
- Loosening the soil in potted plants that may collect water on its surface
Sometimes practices might not be enough to keep the mozzies at bay, especially if you are living in a dengue cluster zone. You can consider picking these items up from a nearby store for an extra layer of protection from the mosquitos!
- Mosquito Repellents
Mosquito or insect repellents that contain at least 15% of DEET or Picaridin have shown to keep the Aedes mosquitoes away. Both DEET and Picaridin have been tested and found to be safe and effective by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Our favourite repellent is the Nexcare Ultrathon Insect Repellent which contains 25% of DEET. Not only will it keep you safe from mosquitoes, it also acts as an all-round insect repellent that is sweat and splash resistant.
It is widely available at health and beauty retailers such as Guardian and Watsons.
- Mosquito Nets
Since the Aedes mosquitoes are day biters, a mosquito net is a great choice for those who like to take naps in the daytime, especially for babies and toddlers who do so.
This can also be an option for people who do not take the smell of insect repellents well but still want some protection from mosquitoes at home.
You can find mosquito nets at retailers such as Decathlon and Spotlight.
- Mosquito Traps
A lesser known option, mosquito traps are more effective when used for surveillance and research purposes. Mosquito traps use various cues (eg. carbon dioxide, light, temperature etc.) to attract mosquitos and trap them.
However, it is important to ensure that the trap is placed strategically to maximise the trap’s potential and effectiveness.
Mosquito traps can be found at hypermarkets such as FairPrice Xtra and Giant Hypermarket.
Source: MCCY SG
Getting through this dengue outbreak can only be done when everyone in the community plays their part. From putting down the toilet bowl cover to applying mosquito repellent, these seemingly insignificant actions are helping stem the outbreak of dengue.
Using the Outside App is another way that you can help your community. Outside has made community tasking easy by connecting neighbours to help each other with errands. So the next time you need to grab a mosquito net but don’t have the time to do so, you can count on Outside to be there for you!
Outside is a community-tasking app that connects users to help each other out for their daily inconveniences. Since its launch in 2017, the app has gained recognition for its work through media features and competitions, where it has won multiple awards. Currently, the app boasts over 10,000 users and is officially supported by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)’s #SGUnited and Majurity Trust’s #SGStrong.