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Mosquitoes and Zika virus

Mosquitoes

Zika virus infection is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The Aedes mosquito is also a known carrier of the dengue and Chikungunya viruses. Zika is generally a mild disease, less serious than dengue. It may cause a mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle or joint pain, and headache. The majority of people infected with Zika will not show symptoms.

However, Zika virus infection may sometimes cause microcephaly in the unborn foetuses of pregnant women. Microcephaly is a congenital condition that manifests itself as birth defects in which a baby is born with significantly smaller heads than usual.

At the moment, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika infection. Treatment is solely focused on relieving the symptoms, and patients recover within 4 to 7 days. Those infected are advised to get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain with common painkillers.

Zika Virus Prevention

National Environment Agency of Singapore (NEA) has intensified vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population. Vector control operations include:

  • Inspecting all premises, ground and congregation areas
  • Conducting mandatory treatment such as ultra-low volume misting of premises and thermal fogging of outdoor areas to kill adult mosquitoes
  • Increasing frequency of drain flushing and oiling to prevent breeding
  • Public education outreach and distribution of insect repellents

Sources: Ministry of Health Singapore, National Environment Agency Singapore, World Health Organization (WHO)

Aedes mosquito

The Aedes mosquito is the main transmitter of dengue fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever and the deadly yellow fever. Its black body and legs have white spots and stripes on them, thus they are sometimes known as “Tiger mosquito”. This species is very active in the day and strongly attracted to humans for blood feeding.

The Aedes mosquito breeds in household containers such as flower vases, in pot plates, water storage jars where clean water is always present. It can also breed in roof gutters, watering cans, tree holes, puddles and discarded containers around the house where rainwater collects.

Anopheles mosquito

This is the most important common vector of malaria. It has white or rusty-red spots on its wings. It bites during the night. This species breeds mainly in ground seepage, streams, ponds and swampy areas.

Culex mosquito

This light brown mosquito bites in the night and it’s bite is very itchy. One species of the Culex mosquito is a big nuisance because the female lays many eggs at a time which then hatch out into numerous adults. The Culex mosquito breeds in polluted water such as in drains blocked with litter. Besides giving itchy bites, they can transmit the horrible disease called elephantiasis (the victim’s limbs swell to a very huge size, resembling elephant limbs).

Control

The most effective means of containing mosquitoes is to remove stagnant water so that they have no place to breed.

  • Change water in containers at least once a week. It takes only 7 days for any egg to become an adult
  • If you need to store water, cover it to prevent adult mosquitoes from breeding
  • Check around your house for unused or unwanted items that collect rain water. Roof gutters should be regularly inspected for blockage.
  • Insecticide granules can be added to water in plant bowls and plates beneath pots to kill the larvae. These granules last 1 – 3 months.
  • If you want peace of mind, call Anticimex for effective control.

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