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Dengue cases have doubled since last year

Mosquito-dengue-vector

Health & BodyNewsYouth features

COVID-19 is not the only disease Singaporeans need to be fighting now.

Staying home during the circuit breaker may keep us safe from COVID-19, but there is another disease that could still be right at our door… or flying in through the windows. 

The National Environment Agency (NEA) reported that the number of dengue cases in Singapore this year has hit a high of 6,582 as of May 2. This number is more than twice the amount from the same period last year.

More alarming were reports that the strain of dengue affecting Singaporeans this year was one that was not seen for 30 years. This means that many of us are especially vulnerable to this strain of the disease as we do not have antibodies or immunity against it. 

One youth who recently recovered from the mosquito-borne disease shared his experience with Youth.SG

"I think I contracted it from my home area, which was in a red zone at the time with over 10 infected cases," said National University of Singapore undergraduate Aloysius Lim, 22. 

Both he and his mother caught dengue around December last year, with her case being slightly more serious. 

"At first, I thought it was just a normal cold. But after four to five days, it got quite bad. I felt very weak from the first day, and then I started developing this rash. That's when I sort of knew I had dengue," he said. 

flowerpot-plates-dengue-mosquito-breeding
Flowerpot plates are common breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
PHOTO CREDIT: MARIANNA OLE VIA PEXELS

Aloysius was in the hospital for only two days as they typically do not ward dengue patients. Instead, he rested at home and went to a private clinic daily for a blood test to ensure his platelet count was returning to normal. 

"It was two weeks of fever, rash and weakness. The fatigue was definitely the worst. One of the symptoms is this ache in your bones. It's more jialat than just a flu, but at the same time, it's not so severe where you cannot operate." 

While Aloysius found out he could still go about some of his daily activities during the time he took to recover, he learned that if he were to catch the virus again, the symptoms would be worse. 

"It wasn't that bad for me because it was my first time with dengue. According to what the doctor said, dengue is only bad from the second time onwards. The second time is a bit more aggressive," he said. 

To combat the bigger threat of dengue, NEA recently extended their Project Wolbachia to three more high-risk neighbourhoods: Choa Chu Kang, Keat Hong and Hong Kah North. 

This project involves releasing male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes which mate with urban female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, causing their eggs not to hatch.

Project-Wolbachia-Singapore-NEA-infographic-diagram
Disrupting the reproductive cycle of mosquitoes helps reduce their numbers significantly.
IMAGE CREDIT: NEA

This radical approach has been successful in suppressing more than 90 per cent of the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in other estates where the method was used. 

While the results of this project are successful thus far, it does not mean we can let our guard down. It is still important to be vigilant and remove water left around our house, from buckets to flowerpot plates. 

NEA-5-step-mozzie-wipeout-diagram
The five-step Mozzie Wipeout is useful to remove breeding sites for mosquitoes.
IMAGE CREDIT: NEA

For all the time we are spending at home during this circuit breaker, let's do our part to make sure mosquitoes don't get to breed in our neighbourhood. 

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY: LOW JIA YING 

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: PIXABAY VIA PEXELS

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