Shoppers of Chinese New Year plants urged to help fight dengue

Pussy Willows.
Pussy Willows.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

SINGAPORE - People shopping for plants for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations were reminded on Sunday (Jan 24) morning to play their part in the fight against dengue.

While plants like pussy willow and "lucky" bamboo are especially popular during this period, the containers used to hold them can become breeding grounds for mosquitos, said Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources and Health Amy Khor.

She visited two plant nurseries along Thomson Road on Sunday to distribute pamphlets carrying the anti-dengue message to customers.

Dengue numbers have been unusually high this year, with 136 active clusters as of last Friday.

 
 

This is attributable to a shift in the predominant dengue strain, as well as the warmer weather which facilitates mosquito breeding and virus spread.

The National Environment Agency had said earlier this month that the change of the main strain of virus from Den-1 to Den-2 - there are four strains of the virus - "may be an early indicator of a future dengue outbreak".

In 2014, four in five dengue patients were infected with Den-1. But Den-2 started rising from around August last year and now accounts for two in three infections.

Singapore has a large adult population that has never had dengue. People who have been infected are protected against only that viral strain and not the other three.