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WhyItMatters

Public must step up dengue fight

With dengue cases here threatening to exceed the record 22,000 infections in 2013, it is time for Singaporeans to step up and get serious about tackling the mosquito problem.

The Government is already pulling out all the stops to keep the dengue-spreading insects at bay.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) is training thousands more grassroots volunteers to help with public education efforts. And by June, it will have deployed 20,000 new Gravitraps to trap mosquitoes and larvae.

But there is a limit to how much the authorities alone can accomplish.

Under the right conditions, mosquito eggs hatch in less than a day and the larvae mature within a week. Three days after the adult mosquito has bitten someone, it lays eggs and the cycle starts again.

Putting an end to this requires everyone to keep a sharp eye out for potential breeding spots.

At home, flower vases and flower pot plates are classic culprits.

Mosquitoes can also lay their eggs in places such as plant axils - the hollow where the leaf meets the stem, where water can collect. As unlikely as this sounds, it was among the top five mosquito breeding spots that the NEA found in homes in 2014.

In fact, homes have been found to be the main breeding ground for mosquitoes, accounting for 60 per cent of all breeding spots found during inspections.

Elsewhere, carelessly discarded litter - especially disposable cups and plastic bottles - can make perfect mosquito nurseries. Even ledges for air-conditioning condenser units can collect stagnant water and serve as breeding grounds.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue, have also been implicated as carriers of the Zika virus.

While the virus has not reached Singapore yet, the authorities have said it is "inevitable" that it eventually will. This should give people here a twofold reason to make sure that the insects do not reproduce.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Public must step up dengue fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe