This is a picture of my son, taken a month before his first birthday.
We were at my sister’s place celebrating his cousin’s birthday. It was a landed property with a large outdoor garden, so a bouncing castle was ordered in for the party. As you can imagine, all the kids spent most of their time outdoors as a result.
For some reason, the mozzies decided to host their own birthday party on my son’s face; hence the swelling. It caused no end of concern from me, the wife, and even his grandmother, and shortly after, we set a family directive to never being my son to my sister’s house again.
If course, being the opportunist that I was, I decided to use my son’s post-mozzie attack image as the focus of his Boxing Day birthday invitation card.
Could what happened to my kid have been prevented? The NEA has been actively sending out messages saying you can. You have the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout PSAs playing on TV, printed on newspaper and magazine ads, disseminated in flyers and pamphlets… but does anyone take them seriously? Before Xander was born, I can honestly tell you, “Pffffft”.
But after looking at my son’s face marred like that, I now make it a point to, dengue or not.
The Anti-Dengue Army (Nee Soon Central Division)
Then at the dengue prevention volunteer training workshop I attended previously, I found out about the volunteers. The?Nee Soon Central Zone 6 Resident’s Committee (RC) sends out about 15 volunteers (consisting of both?senior citizens and RC members)?around the residential?estates to engage residents about dengue awareness and also help them identify possible Aedes breeding hotspots in their homes and in nearby communal areas.
It’s a pretty effective exercise, too. A long-time volunteer said to us during a roundtable discussion, “Most of them know us. We will always identify ourselves as RC members, because we are not salesmen, you know.” So the residents are quite receptive to the information and advice the volunteers give out during house visits. And since this volunteer-driven dengue awareness programme began, there has been a marked decrease on breeding hotspot in communal areas.
You may have also noticed there’s been a lot less fogging being done in residential estates nowadays. As?NEA representative Sueanne Mocktar?explained, thermal?fogging may kill mosquitoes, but the loud sound and the blowing effect from the fogging machines also push and drive mosquitoes away, so the culling wasn’t as effective.
So while the NEA still conducts thermal fogging outdoors from time to time, they’ve been focusing their efforts on a method called ULV misting, using a much quieter, less forceful water-based misting spray that disperses smaller particles, and because it’s a more subtle method, ULV misting is applied indoors – in common mosquito hiding places such as dark corners, toilets, underneath furniture and behind curtains – mainly due to the same reason why the following, very recently concocted myth has been roundly debunked.
The Haze Kills Mosquitoes – You Think, I Thought, Who Confirm?
Despite what you’ve heard, the haze didn’t improve the dengue situation. As it turns out, rise in ambient temperature will speed up the Aedes egg incubation period. Also, because 70% of Aedes mosquitoes breed indoors, while we were protecting our homes from the haze by closing our windows, we may very well have been keeping the mosquitoes safe with us at the same time.
We count our blessings that my son’s mosquito attack stopped at his face. If mere mosquito bites could freak us out that much, imagine how we would have dealt with it if it turned out to be a dengue infection. And when you see members of the public taking an active role in fighting the spread of dengue in their communities, it just goes to show how much the dengue situation affects you, the people around you and the nation as a whole. Take the war seriously;?it’s already caused four deaths, don’t allow it to take any more.