Recently, a family friend came down with dengue and had to spend a grueling week in the hospital. Since there is no specific treatment for dengue, it is important for us to prevent the transmission of this virus. With dengue cases on the rise due to the 2015 El Niño phenomenon that caused warmer weather conditions, I share 3 practical ways we can practice to protect our families from falling victim to dengue:
1. Remove Stagnant Water in our Living Space with the 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout:
I make it a routine to ensure that there is no stagnant water accumulating in my potted plants by loosening any hardened soil and removing water from my flower pot plates on alternate days. While I’m at it, I also change the water in my vases daily and I use the water from the indoor vases to water the plants so we can save on water! Don’t forget to scrub the insides of the vases as well – mosquito eggs can cling to the sides of vases and remain dormant in dry conditions for up to 9 months (gasp!), after which they can still hatch if exposed to favourable conditions (i.e. water and food).
Loosen hardened soil from flower pots to remove any stagnant water…Empty the flower pot plates daily after watering the plants… Turn the flower pot plates over if you’re going to leave home for a few days…
I sometimes hand-wash some of the children’s clothes and my blouses which are more fragile. After doing laundry, I make sure the pails are always kept overturned and the pail rims are wiped dry to prevent stagnant water from pooling in the bathroom. It requires one extra step but it removes any chance of mosquito breeding and that is the best way to keep our families safe!
Mozzies love damp, dark places so keeping our bathrooms dry is a great defence…Watch out for other potential breeding spots in our living space…
Here’s complete list of the 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout that we can practice regularly to prevent mosquito breeding in our homes:
- Change water in vases/bowls on alternate days
- Turn over all water storage containers
- Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use
- Clear blockages and put BTI insecticide in roof gutters monthly
- Remove water from flower pot plates on alternate days
2. Prevent Mosquito Bites:
Dengue fever is spread through the bite of a female Aedes mosquito (only female mozzies bite as they need the protein in our blood to develop its eggs). We can avoid being bitten by applying insect repellent regularly. For ourselves and our 8 year old daughter, we use those containing chemical DEET or Picaridin as they are most effective in repelling mosquitoes. Wearing loose and long-sleeved clothing would also provide added protection.
A daily routine: spraying mosquito repellant before we head out.
Our toddler son Buddy is unfortunately sensitive to DEET repellants so we rely on mosquito patches to keep mozzies and other insects away. However, mozzie patches provide localised protection and so it’s best to couple its use with natural repellents such as plant-based oils (e.g. lemon eucalyptus, citronella, cedar, peppermint, lemongrass, geranium, soybean).
Applying the Anti-Bug Balm on Buddy before we go for our evening walks…
Recently, I discovered the Badger Anti-Bug Balm (bought from iHerb), which is safe for use all over our body and yet able to protect Buddy effectively from mozzie bites. Most importantly, it did not cause him to have any allergic skin reactions. I love its citronella and rosemary scent too. The only trick is we have to re-apply it on him more frequently and diligently, because protection by repellents with natural ingredients is short-lived. If we need to head out in the evenings or when the weather is cooler, I dress Buddy in loose cotton clothing that covers his arms and legs.
3. Be vigilant to report potential breeding spots:
We can all keep a look out for potential breeding spots in our neighbour and call the NEA hotline at 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255 632) when we uncover such spots in public areas. NEA officers will then swiftly carry out thorough inspections and take necessary measures to curb mosquito breeding.
Should anyone in the family display any of the following symptoms, it is best to see a family doctor for a diagnosis as soon as possible so that medical care can be administered appropriately:
• Sudden onset of fever which can last up to 7 days
• Severe headache, body aches and/or joint pains
• Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
• Development of skin rashes
Dengue hemorrhagic fever presents similarly to dengue fever but is associated with more severe bleeding problems (e.g. gum bleeding, nose bleeding and bleeding into the skin and internal organs) along with evidence of plasma leakage. By being a little more diligent and incorporating the 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout into our daily habits, we can protect our children and family from dengue. Let’s all do our part to fight dengue today!