In the week ending 20 June 2020, there was a whopping total of 1,374 dengue cases – the highest number of weekly dengue cases ever recorded in Singapore. It’s been a trying time for everyone, with the number of COVID-19 just starting to die down and the start of phase 2. Understandably, it can be overwhelming and frustrating to know that we have one more thing to be vigilant.
But we are all in this together, and today we have condensed a few simple tips for you to protect yourself against the dengue fever.
Tip 1: Apply Mosquito Repellent with DEET
DEET- containing synthetic repellents provide longer protection than plant-based repellents, which would be the best for preventing dangerous Aedes mosquito bites.
Understandably, many may be concerned about the use of chemical substances and therefore opt for alternatives like citronella and eucalyptus. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of essential oils as a mosquito repellent varies from person to person.
“Essential oils are usually diluted in a carrier oil to lessen the likelihood of skin irritation, but this also means that the strength of its repellent properties are diluted” says Dr Jacky Shee, Family Physician, Healthway Medical. He also explains that natural insect repellents must be researched before they are used. “For example, lemon eucalyptus oil is not recommended for use on children under the age of 3 due to lack of research on its effect.”
There are some mosquito repellents containing less than 10% DEET which are gentler on the skin and therefore suitable for infants and children from 2 months of age. Otherwise, conventional repellents are safe even for use by pregnant women.
Apply the mosquito repellent to exposed skin and/or clothing, using just enough to cover the entire area. Do not, however, apply it under clothing. This is to prevent prolonged exposure to the product which can cause itching or dermatitis.
Tip 2: Wear Long Sleeves and Pants
Long sleeves and pants are two of the best ways to reduce exposed skin and therefore prevent mosquitoes from biting you.
Tip 3: Use Mosquito Nets While Sleeping
Mosquito nets help to prevent mosquitoes from coming near you when you are sleeping. Unless you’re sleeping in an air-conditioned room.
Tip 4: Avoid Red Coded Areas
National Environment Agency (NEA) has come up with a dengue colour-coded alert system which uses colour-coded banners (specifically yellow, red or green) to indicate an active dengue cluster. Red Alert indicates more than 10 cases in your neighbourhood, yellow indicates less than 10, while green indicates no cases.
You can find out whether you’re in an area with a high Aedes mosquito population by downloading the myENV app (iPhone, Android) to view the Aedes Mosquito map. There is also a feature where you can be notified if you are in an area with a high Aedes population.
Tip 5: 5-Step Mozzie Wipe Out
The “5-Step Mozzie Wipe Out” is a good routine to remember how to keep your homes safe from dengue fever. The 5 steps are:
- Change water in vases/bowls on alternate days
- Turn over all water storage containers
- Remove water from flower pot plates on alternate days
- Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use
- Clear blockages and put BTI insecticide in roof gutters monthly
Let’s do our part in the fight against dengue fever!
Images: NEA, Shutterstock and Unsplash