2,772 dengue cases in 2017, the lowest in the last 16 years: NEA

NEA in its statement said it would continue to take enforcement action against recalcitrant errant contractors and premises owners for mosquito breeding found on their premises. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - There were 2,772 dengue cases in Singapore last year, the lowest figure in the last 16 years, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement on Friday (Feb 9).

The agency attributed the relatively low number to three possible reasons: First, the local population has built up immunity after a high number of cases in the last few years where there were dengue outbreaks.

Second, there was a concerted effort by the community and NEA in response to the Zika outbreak in the second half of 2016.

Lastly, NEA credited its network of about 50,000 Gravitraps - traps that catch Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and collect data on them - that are deployed across the island for helping lower the number of mosquitoes.

Last year, NEA conducted about 1.2 million inspections. Of these, 7,900 checks were done at construction sites.

Through these inspections, the agency uncovered about 15,000 mosquito breeding habitats. A total of 4,200 households were fined for mosquito breeding, while about 670 notices to attend court and 48 Stop Work Orders were issued to construction sites. There were also 28 court prosecutions taken against contractors for repeat offences.

NEA in its statement said it would continue to take enforcement action against recalcitrant errant contractors and owners of premises where mosquito breeding was found.

Even as NEA released the low numbers, the agency urged the public to make a concerted effort to prevent mosquito breeding to suppress the mosquito population and keep the number of dengue cases low.

It added that its Gravitrap surveillance system has detected 37 per cent more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in January this year than in September last year.

In particular, NEA put out an advisory for the Chinese New Year festive period, reminding residents that Aedes mosquitoes can breed in ornamental plants that may be acquired for decoration during this season.

It advised plant owners to remove stagnant water by turning the pails, tipping the vases, flipping the flowerpot plates, loosening hardened soil to prevent liquid build-up, as well as clearing roof gutters and placing Bti insecticide in them.

NEA also reminded home owners who are spring cleaning their homes to properly dispose of any refuse, including large furniture or household items. This is to prevent the discarded materials from becoming mosquito breeding habitats.

Those who are going overseas during the holiday period should also make sure their homes are mosquito-proof in their absence.

Those infected with dengue should protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying repellent regularly, and those showing dengue symptoms should see doctors early to be diagnosed.

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