Singapore’s tropical climate provides the ideal conditions for the breeding and survival of mosquitoes. This is a contributing factor to the occurrence of dengue outbreaks, particularly during the warmer months.
In 2022, 32,325 dengue cases were reported, almost 6 times the number from 2021. To reduce the risk of contracting the disease, it’s important to learn how to prevent dengue fever and protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Read about the symptoms of dengue fever and the various measures you can adopt to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds and safeguard your health below.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
Dengue fever is a viral infection that’s transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. There’s no specific medication for dengue fever so treatment primarily focuses on managing the symptoms.
Dengue fever symptoms can range from mild to severe. It’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly if you or a loved one exhibit these symptoms:
- A sudden onset of fever that lasts for 2 to 7 days
- Severe headache accompanied by pain behind your eyes
- Pain in your joints and muscles
- Mild bleeding, such as nosebleeds and gum bleeding
Habits to Prevent Dengue
You can reduce your risk of contracting dengue fever with these simple preventive measures.
1. Get Rid of Stagnant Water
Stagnant water serves as a prime breeding site for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Identifying and eliminating sources of stagnant water in and around your home can effectively control mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of dengue fever.
Flip, cover or drain objects around your home that can collect water, such as:
- Flower pots and plant saucers
- Pails and buckets
- Pet water dishes
- Children’s outdoor toys and play equipment
- Old tires
2. Wear Long-sleeved Clothing
By wearing long-sleeved clothing, you create a physical barrier between the mosquito and your skin. This makes it harder for mosquitoes to bite and feed on your blood, reducing the chances of getting infected with the dengue virus.
3. Use Insect Repellent
Insect repellents reduce the risk of dengue by minimising the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects. There are 2 types of insect repellents available – topical and spatial repellents. Each one has different instructions and safety guidelines.
Topical repellents can be used directly on the skin or clothing. Most of them contain active ingredients such as DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) which disrupts the mosquito’s sense of smell, making it harder for it to detect and bite you.
Before using the repellent, it’s important to take note of the usage instructions and any specific precautions.
General safety guidelines for using topical repellents
- Test it on a small part of your skin first to check for any allergic reactions.
- Use only enough repellent to cover your exposed skin and clothing.
- Avoid contact with any open wounds or irritated skin.
- If you’re using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen before putting on the repellent.
- Avoid spraying the product directly on your face. Spray it onto your hands first and spread it onto your face, avoiding the eyes, mouth and nostrils.
- Use soap and water to wash your hands after applying the product.
- Never use expired products.
Spatial repellents are designed to repel insects in a specific area or space, rather than being applied directly to the skin or clothing. They emit substances such as D-trans allethrin and prallethrin that repel mosquitoes.
Various forms of spatial repellents are available in the market, including coils, electric vaporisers and chemical-based diffusers. You’re recommended to adhere to the instructions and safety guidelines provided on the product labels.
General safety guidelines for using topical repellents
- Ensure that the area where you use the product has adequate ventilation.
- Don’t inhale the fumes or vapours in close range. Stop using it if you experience breathing difficulties or allergic reactions.
- Avoid leaving the product unattended when in use to minimise fire and electrical hazards.
- Avoid direct contact with the product as it may cause skin irritation.
- Place it in an area that isn’t easily accessible to children and pets to prevent accidental contact.
- Avoid placing it near food items.
- Use soap and water to wash your hands after touching the product.
- Discard expired products.
How to Mosquito-proof Your Home to Prevent Dengue
Mosquito-proofing your home can minimise your exposure to Aedes mosquitoes. Here are some ways to help you create a safe and mosquito-free living environment.
4. Use Nippon Paint Mozzieguard
Refreshing your walls with special paints that repel mosquitoes can enhance your overall protection against mosquito-borne diseases like dengue.
Nippon Paint Mozzieguard is an innovative paint solution designed to safeguard your home against mosquitoes. This specially-formulated paint contains a unique active ingredient that disrupts the mosquito’s ability to land on painted surfaces. Moreover, this ingredient remains effective for at least 24 months after the paint has dried.
The product has been tested by a third-party laboratory in accordance with regulations set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to the test, Aedes mosquitoes exposed to surfaces coated with Mozzieguard have shown a mortality rate of over 90%.
5. Install Mosquito Door and Window Screens
Insect screens keep insects out of your home. (Shutterstock/Sutichak)
Installing mosquito screens on doors and windows is another way to reduce the chances of these pests entering your house. Always ensure they’re securely fastened with no gaps or openings for mosquitoes to sneak through.
In addition, you should regularly inspect and clean your screens to keep them in good condition. Any tears or damage should be repaired promptly to maintain their effectiveness.
6. Use Mosquito Nets
Mosquito nets provide a physical barrier between you and disease-carrying mosquitoes, especially during the night. Hang them around your bed and ensure that they cover all sides.
You should also check for holes in the nets regularly as even small openings can allow mosquitoes to enter.
FAQs About Dengue Fever and Prevention
What is the peak season for dengue?
In Singapore, the peak season for dengue is typically observed from June to October. The warm temperatures during this period contribute to faster breeding and multiplication of the virus in mosquitoes, leading to a higher risk of transmission.
What are the dengue clusters in Singapore?
Dengue clusters are frequently changing. You can refer to NEA’s cluster map for the latest information on cluster locations.
Construction sites are also prone to becoming part of the dengue cluster for a variety of reasons, including the presence of stagnant water and poor waste management. If left unchecked, these conditions create the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Can dengue spread?
Dengue isn’t contagious and doesn’t spread directly from person to person. However, if a mosquito bites an infected person and subsequently bites a healthy person, the virus can be transmitted.
Do ultrasonic mosquito repellents work?
There are mobile applications and ultrasonic devices that claim to repel mosquitoes through the use of high-frequency sounds. However, scientific studies have concluded that most, if not all of these devices are ineffective in repelling mosquitoes.
What should I do if I’m bitten by an Aedes mosquito?
Refrain from scratching the bites and use over-the-counter antihistamine or anti-itch cream to reduce the itching. Visit a doctor for advice on what to do next and medication to treat the symptoms.
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