The Straits Times
Published on Nov 27, 2012

Prevention is key to dengue control


WE AGREE with Madam Pauline Low ("Swift action, alerts vital"; Nov 13) that swift action and community participation are critical to stop dengue transmission.

The key is to act before dengue hits the neighbourhood because there is some lag time between when patients see their doctors and receive a dengue diagnosis, and when the alert gets channelled to the National Environment Agency (NEA). During this time, an infective mosquito could already spread the dengue virus.

Hence, everyone needs to be on the alert to eradicate potential mosquito breeding habitats in and around their homes.

The NEA supports this preventive approach by conducting educational visits to residences on dengue prevention.

We are also developing predictive models that will help us target such visits in high-risk areas.

Where dengue is actively spreading, the main focus of our stepped-up operations in such areas is to seek out and destroy any mosquito breeding to stop further transmission.

In this regard, we alert residents of cases in the neighbourhood through various means so that they can complement our anti-dengue efforts.

This is done via alert letters, on-site banners, the website, SMS via, and the myENV app available on iPhone and Android platforms.

For cases not linked to a known dengue transmission area, such as the one involving Madam Low's neighbour, our officers will still pay a visit to the residences in the vicinity.

In this case, we were notified of the dengue case on Nov 5, and residences in the area, including Madam Low's unit, were checked between Nov 6 and 7.

Our officers had visited Madam Low's unit on Nov 6 but unfortunately, there was no answer at the door. Our officers managed to visit her unit during the follow-up inspection the next day.

Currently, information on cases not linked to a known dengue transmission area is not made public. We are reviewing our approach and will look into providing residents with as much information as possible for swift action to be taken. We thank Madam Low for her feedback.

Tai Ji Choong


Environmental Health Department

National Environment Agency