On Feb 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international health emergency.
Zika, previously known to only bring about moderate cold and flu-like symptoms, was found to be the cause of multiple cases of neurological disorders – including microcephaly in babies (a condition causing babies to be born with abnormally small heads).
While most people infected with the virus do not display visible outward symptoms, others have experienced symptoms such as fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle and joint pain. Since prevention is better than cure, here are some good practices for getting rid of stagnant water at home – and in doing so, protecting our families and neighbourhoods.
Like Dengue, the Zika virus is transmitted by the female Aedes mosquito – which goes through four distinct stages of its life cycle. So here are some good anti-mozzie practices separated into the various stages.
Water is a necessary part of the mosquito habitat. Most eggs hatch into larvae within 48 hours so it is important to constantly remove puddles of water or standing water around your home. This can be done by:
- Turning over unused pails
- Tipping out your flower vases regularly
- Flipping over the flower pot plate
These practices reduce breeding sites as most mosquitoes lay their eggs in water – and they don’t require much. A plastic bottle cap lying abandoned can already hold enough water to support mosquito breeding.
At this stage, the larva lives in water and comes to the surface to breathe. If you own a small water garden or pond, consider adding in some mosquito fish (whose diet consists of a large number of mosquito larvae). This species of freshwater fish had been introduced directly into ecosystems in many parts of the world as a biocontrol to lower mosquito populations.
(The resting, non-feeding stage of development in the life cycle.)
The newly emerged adult does not blood feed or mate until a couple of days later. If you own a garden or lawn, keeping the grasses and shrubs trimmed short will reduce places for the adult mosquito to rest.
Early mornings and evenings are times when mosquitoes are most active, so do consider using a mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors, and an insect repellent too.
If you have any more tips to suggest, feel free to leave a comment below.
Let’s all do our part and keep Singapore safe from bloodthirsty mosquitoes.
By Vivian Tan
Image Credit: New Kids-Center