The weather is getting hotter, drier with the occasional rain. This hotter and more humid weather also spells…Dengue.
Singapore is shielded from natural disasters, however that doesn’t mean we do not have ‘natural’ enemies. One of the common ‘enemies’ is the Aedes mosquito, specifically because it carries with it the deadly Dengue disease. In 2013 and 2014, the number of Dengue cases was very high and there were even several fatalities. Even though Singapore has seen fewer dengue cases this year (39% lower number of cases between Jan and Mar 2015, compared to the same period last year), the National Environment Agency (NEA) has detected about 80% more Aedes mosquito breeding spots in homes between February and March 2015. With an increase in breeding habitats, it could lead to a surge in Dengue cases in the warmer months ahead.
While natural disasters cannot be averted, Dengue can be prevented if every one of us, in every household make a conscious effort to practice the *5-step #MozzieWipeout and not put your family members’ health at risk. Simple actions like covering the outdoor bamboo pole holders with a cover and changing water in vases can go a long way in keeping our families and each other safe.
Ironically, it is at places that we are comfortable and familiar with that we let down our guards. One of those places would be our toilet and bathrooms – a place in our home where we would least expect stagnant water since it is used regularly and frequently right? Wrong. Like most places, if we are not careful, stagnant water can accumulate very quickly making it conducive grounds for mosquito breeding.
Look around your toilets today and check for these potential mosquito breeding spots:
- Gully Traps
Gully traps in our homes usually are filled with water at the bottom, particularly if our homes are high-rise ones due to the pressure of the piping system. We often do not even know or see it. A viable solution is to put an anti-mosquito valve, which looks like a plastic piece with a thin slit across the gully trap. The thin slit allows only water to pass through and prevents mosquitoes from flying in and out. These anti-mosquito valves are relatively inexpensive (available at most hardware shops) and very easy to fit.
- Pail Collars and Toilet Covers
It is good practice to overturn pails and water storage containers after use so that we do not leave puddles of water stagnating. However, we often overlook the overturned rounded collars of pails and containers. When overturned, these form a miniature drain where water can accumulate. Likewise with toilet bowls, sometimes after washing or showering, water can accumulate at the collar between the cistern and the toilet cover. Take the extra step to dry them.
- Indoor Plants
There are some of us who like to beautify our bathrooms with plants. Just like in the outdoors, if stagnant water is held at its dish or on the axils of the leaves, it becomes a potential mosquito breeding spot. A good alternative would be to use synthetic (i.e. fake) ornamental plants that require no watering. The quality of these plants are so high that they can often be passed off as real ones except that they are less likely to breed mosquitoes.
- Toilet Bowls and Overflow Pipes of Toilet Cistern
Water exists in the toilet bowl and the cistern. Leaving the water exposed for a prolonged period of time, makes it a magnet for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and breed. Always remember to close the toilet bowl after use and seal the overflow pipe of the flushing cisterns when you’re going to be away from home for an extended period like on a business trip or family vacation.
It is a well-known fact that it takes just a tiny water puddle the size of a 20 cents coin for mosquitoes to breed. Imagine, how many can be bred from puddles of water left exposed and stagnant in our bathrooms. As we enter the warmer months of the year; this is when there is usually higher dengue transmission due to accelerated breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquito and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus.
Let’s stay extra vigilant, train our kids to join the entire family in doing the 5-step #MozzieWipeout regularly. Don’t let familiarity lead to complacency and breed deadly mosquitoes that spread Dengue.
Dengue prevention starts at home!
*Do the 5-step #MozzieWipeout in 2 minutes:
- Change water in vases on alternate days
- Turn over all water storage containers
- Remove water from flower pot plates on alternate days
- Clear blockages and put BTI insecticide in roof gutters monthly
- Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use