Forum: Adopt different strategy to fight dengue fever

Over the last 40 years, the National Environment Agency appears to have been using the same strategy to eradicate dengue fever - trying to exterminate mosquitoes. This clearly has not been successful.

Once, when my mother was hospitalised, she was in a non-air-conditioned hospital ward and lying in the bed next to hers was a woman being treated for dengue.

I was aghast, as all it would take was one mosquito biting this woman and others in the ward could end up being infected as well.

When a friend was warded in a private hospital with dengue, he was bitten by a mosquito even though he was in an air-conditioned, single room.

The hospital staff were extremely worried that other patients, or even the staff themselves, would get the disease as well.

It was similar to the concern I had when my flatmate came down with dengue. I decided to take no chances. I made sure every window in our apartment was shut to prevent any mosquito getting to him, as our neighbours or I could have been the next victims. I also sprayed him with mosquito repellent three times a day.

In contrast, at the polyclinic that diagnosed him with dengue, the only advice he was given was to go home and rest. He was not given any advice to stay indoors or take precautions to ensure that others would not be infected.

People with dengue need to be isolated in a closed room to prevent mosquitoes getting to them because their blood carries the virus.

Mosquitoes by themselves are not the cause of dengue. I grew up being bitten by mosquitoes, but it wasn't a problem as there was no one with the dengue virus back then in the area where I lived.

Fumigating has not and will not get rid of dengue as it's impossible to exterminate mosquitoes. Perhaps it is time a different strategy was adopted.

Isolate everyone with dengue during the infectious period as we do with all communicable diseases. It may be a more effective option.

Gim Leng Chew

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