For years now Singapore has been tormented by the Aedes mosquito – winged-pests that are known to spread a number of diseases including dengue fever, yellow fever, and Zika fever. With the widespread epidemic of Zika fever that has plagued South America over the past year, it was only a matter of time before the infectious disease reached our shores. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed that there have been 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika. This may sound a tad alarming but seeing as Zika is considered a mild disease, there is no cause for panic – yet. Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant. Here are a number of things you should know about the Zika virus that’s affecting Singapore.
1) It is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. An afflicted patient can also sexually transmit the disease, so individuals living in affected areas should be mindful of this – especially if they have pregnant sexual partners.
2) While the disease may be a mild one, it can cause birth defects in the unborn fetuses of pregnant women. Remind your expectant loved ones to be wary about travelling to known affected areas.
4) Authorities have also identified “other areas of concern outside of cluster”. Namely, these are areas where some of the victims live or work: Khatib Camp, Sembawang Drive, Kranji Road, Joo Chiat Place, Senoko South Road, Toh Guan Road East and Lor 101 Changi.
5) It is not uncool to put on some insect repellent, especially if the disease presents a risk to your loved ones. Here are a few brands you may want to consider:
At the risk of sounding like a government-sanctioned health advisory poster, we need to bear in mind that while the NEA has stepped up its efforts to deal with the seemingly omnipresent issue of these pests and the diseases they carry, we also need to do our part to curb the issue. The very least we can do is to ensure that our own homes cannot be used as breeding grounds for these vile insects, ergo no stagnant water.
Fighting Mozzies with Mozzies
Starting in October, the NEA will be embarking on a field study to measure the effectiveness of a new method of combating these mozzies. It will be releasing thousands of harmless male Aedes mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia Bacterium into various former dengue clusters. When these mozzies mate with females in the wild, the resulting eggs will not hatch. Hopefully this will eradicate the problem of mozzie-transmitted diseases and in time, mozzies themselves. I think we can all stand to do without these pests. I know I can.