SINGAPORE: The mosquito population is expected to increase along with the number of dengue cases in the warmer months ahead, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a media release on Sunday (May 20).
Through its Gravitrap surveillance system, NEA said it found that the mosquito population remained high with 22 per cent more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter, thus posing a risk of an increase in dengue cases.
Earlier this month, three people died and 60 dengue cases were reported in a dengue cluster at Jurong West.
"The warmer months of June to October usually see higher transmission of dengue in Singapore, due to accelerated breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquitoes and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus.
"NEA is thus expecting an increasing trend in cases in the warmer months ahead if we do not take steps to keep the mosquito population in check," the media release said.
The agency urged members of the public to continue to work together as a community to stem dengue transmission.
"NEA, together with the various agencies and other stakeholders represented in the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force (IADTF), including Town Councils, have stepped up checks leading up to the traditional peak dengue season to rid our public areas and housing estates of potential mosquito breeding habitats," added NEA.
From January to March 2018, NEA conducted about 265,000 inspections, including 2,400 inspections carried out at construction sites, the agency said, adding that it uncovered about 4,200 instances of mosquito breeding habitats.
Speaking at the main launch of the 2018 National Dengue Prevention Campaign at the North East District on Sunday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli urged all members of the public and stakeholders to stay vigilant and not let their guard down even though the dengue cases this year are fewer than in recent years.
He made the call for a concerted effort to suppress the Aedes mosquito population and keep dengue incidence low in the run up to the peak dengue season.
Meanwhile, NEA said Phase 2 of the Project Wolbachia study has also begun. The study is being conducted at the same Phase 1 sites (Tampines West and Nee Soon East) and their extended areas, the agency added.
The project involves the use of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to suppress the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in Singapore.
So far, the study has provided "valuable ecological information" on the behaviour of mosquitoes in Singapore, NEA said.
The Phase 2 study is expected to build on that and improve the release methodologies in Singapore's high-rise and high-density urban environment, the release added.
"While NEA explores the potential of Wolbachia technology, source eradication of mosquito breeding habitats and spraying of insecticides where necessary to control the adult mosquito population, will continue to be our key strategy for dengue prevention in Singapore."
The dengue prevention campaign launch will be followed by island-wide outreach efforts across the five districts at different constituencies, NEA said.
This campaign will be supported by the local grassroots advisers and the community, with the mobilisation of grassroots leaders and Dengue Prevention Volunteers (DPVs).
They will conduct patrols to check for potential breeding habitats in common areas around their neighbourhoods and house visits to advise residents on common mosquito breeding habitats and to share dengue prevention tips, the release said.
The campaign this year will focus on making residents aware that clean and stagnant water in their homes can be potential breeding habitats for mosquitoes, it added.