Precautions to take against dengue virus

The best protection is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

SINGAPORE - Dengue fever is widespread in Singapore and in the region of South-east Asia. The prevalence of the virus is closely tied to the prevalence of the Aedes mosquito, the transmitter of the infection.

Infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital Leong Hoe Nam gives some tips on taking precautions against the virus:

1. Expose as little skin as possible

The best protection is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. The chances of being bitten are significantly reduced if you expose as little skin as possible.

When in an area with mosquitoes, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks.

2. Use a mosquito repellent

Use a mosquito repellent with at least 10 per cent diethyltoluamide (DEET), a substance that repels biting pests.

A higher concentration of DEET is necessary for longer lengths of exposure, but avoid using DEET on young children.

At the same time, avoid wearing heavily scented soaps and perfumes as these are known to attract mosquitoes.

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3. Installing structural barriers

At home, install structural barriers such as window screens or insecticide-treated netting. Nets that have been treated with insecticides offer more protection against mosquitoes.

Nets that have been treated with insecticide not only kill mosquitoes and other insects, they are also a physical barrier that prevents mosquitoes from entering the room.

4. Eliminate possible breeding grounds

Aedes mosquito prefers to breed in clean, stagnant water in your home, so eliminate any possible breeding locations. This includes buckets, watering cans and receptacles.

Practise the habit of regularly cleaning and scrubbing your plant pots to remove mosquito eggs. Loosen soil from potted plants to prevent puddles from developing on the surface of hard soil.

5. Vaccination

As of October 2016, the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority for use in individuals aged between 12 and 45 years old.

Individuals who wish to be vaccinated should first consult a doctor.

Source: Health Plus, an online health and wellness web resource by Mouth Elizabeth Hospitals

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