Nepal | September 30, 2020

Singapore battles record dengue outbreak with more mosquitoes

Reuters
Share Now:

SINGAPORE: From the high balcony of a Singapore public housing block, an environment official steadies his mosquito launcher, the latest contraption authorities have devised to combat a record outbreak of the tropical disease dengue.

With the click of a button and a whirr of a fan, a hatch opens and 150 lab-reared male mosquitoes are sent flying, off in search of a female companion with whom they can mate but not reproduce.

Male Wolbachia-aedes aegypti mosquitos are released at a public housing estate test site in Singapore August 27, 2020. Picture taken August 27, 2020. Photo: Reuters

The dengue virus, which in rare cases can be fatal, is carried and spread to humans by infected mosquitoes.

But Singapore’s specially bred mosquitoes carry a bacteria that prevents eggs from hatching, and “compete with the wild type,” leading to “a gradual reduction of the mosquito population,” said Ng Lee Ching, the official heading the Wolbachia project, named after the bacteria.

Some areas with high mosquito populations have seen up to 90% declines using this technique, she added.

Singapore – a tiny Southeast Asian island nation of 5.7 million people – has recorded more than 26,000 dengue cases this year, surpassing the previous annual record of around 22,000 in 2013 with four months still remaining.

Twenty people have died of the disease this year, which can cause extreme fever that leads to internal bleeding and shock. By comparison, only 27 people have died of the coronavirus in the city-state out of more than 56,000 infections.

A new strain of the disease, combined with unseasonably wet weather and coronavirus lockdowns that left construction sites and other mosquito breeding grounds undisturbed, are all seen as factors behind the dengue outbreak.

That has put the onus on traditional deterrents like fogging, fining people for flouting anti-mosquito regulations like leaving plant pots full of stagnant water, and deploying novel techniques such as the Wolbachia project.

In government laboratories, scientists breed the bacteria-carrying mosquitoes in rows of pallets – separating the male pupae for release in the worst-hit dengue areas.

Wolbachia mosquitoes can’t transmit diseases such as dengue, and only female mosquitoes bite humans.

When male Wolbachia mosquitoes mate with females that don’t carry the bacteria, none of the resultant eggs will hatch.

The strategy has been successful in Australia but some experts say it might have its limits in dense urban areas such as Singapore.

“You’ve got to flood the island with these mosquitoes, and people get annoyed,” said Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at Singapore’s National University Hospital.

“They’re not going to grab the mosquito and examine and see whether it’s a male or female. They’re going to swipe them away, and that kind of defeats the purpose,” he said.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Two more Covid-19 related fatalities reported in Banke

RANJHA: Two more Covid-19 related deaths have been reported in Banke district on Tuesday. According to Naresh Shrestha, corona resource person at District Health Office, Banke, a 41-year-old man of Ranitalau in Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City-7, and a 53-year-old man of Kohalpur Municipality-10 Read More...

Nepal's coronavirus cases top 75,000 on Tuesday with 1513 infections

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s coronavirus tally moved to 76,258 as 1,513 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours. Read Also: Kathmandu valley registers record-high 934 single-day coronavirus cases As many as 731 people that had earlier contracted Covid-19 tested negative for the infection as Read More...

Ten Covid-19 fatalities recorded, death-toll inches closer closer to 500

KATHMANDU: Ten people passed away from Covid-19 related complications in the last 24 hours, with which the nationwide death-toll has moved to 491. Three women and seven men lost their lives due to this infection, the Health Ministry’s latest update showed. Read Also: Kathmandu valley registe Read More...

Kathmandu valley registers record-high 934 single-day coronavirus cases

KATHMANDU: The number of single-day coronavirus infections detected in the three districts of Kathmandu valley exceeded 900 for the first time on Tuesday. As many as 934 cases surfaced in the valley in the last 24 hours, of which a majority 747 infections were registered in the capital alone. Read More...

Nepal to receive 25 mln Russian Covid-19 vaccine doses

KATHMANDU: Russia is set to supply 25 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine to Nepal. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund on Tuesday said that it will supply the Russian Sputnik V vaccine through Trinity Pharmaceuticals based in Nepal. The pres Read More...

Liverpool's Klopp bristles at Keane's "sloppy" criticism

LONDON: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp hit back at television pundit and former Manchester United captain Roy Keane on Monday after the Irishman described the Premier League champions' defending in a 3-1 win over Arsenal on Monday as "sloppy". Liverpool have won all three of their league games s Read More...

Djokovic seeks French Open redemption after New York fiasco

PARIS: Three weeks after an acrimonious exit at the US Open, world number one Novak Djokovic will resume his pursuit of an 18th Grand Slam title when he takes on Sweden's Mikael Ymer in the first round at the French Open on Tuesday. The Serbian had started as a heavy favourite to win the title at Read More...

Youth held for raping minor in Rautahat

RAUTAHAT: A youth has been arrested on the charges of raping a 15-year-old girl in Rauthat, on Monday night. The victim's father filed a first incident report (FIR) against 35-year-old Indal Das at a nearby police station. Subsequently, the accused was apprehended from his house around mid-night Read More...