It is well documented that Singapore will, from time to time, be faced with a dengue outbreak. More recently, the Zika virus has also made its way to our shores. Both these diseases are spread by infected Aedes mosquitoes (pictured below) and Singapore, given it’s tropical rainforest climate offers a conducive breeding ground for these pest.
The NEA, given the recent outbreak, has already been stepping up its measures to control the spread of both Dengue and Zika. Clusters are identified the moment someone falls victim to these diseases and surrounding homes inspected to ensure breeding grounds are detected and destroyed. Hefty fines are also in place for those found to have mosquitoes breeding in their premises.
If you happen to live in a condo, regular fogging (usually once a week) are a norm. Some neighbourhoods have even gone to the extent of coordinating their fogging times between different condos for better management of these pest. However, despite these efforts, the threat is still even present. And if we have kids, it is still our responsibility to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to protect them from the deadly Aedes mosquitoes and the diseases they spread.
As we are not experts ourselves, we spoke to the pest control experts at PestManagementSingapore.org to see if they have useful advise to offer us parents. These helpful tips are the result of our short consultation with them…
Use the Right Mosquito Repellent
Singapore law mandates that all mosquito repellent must be registered and approved before they can be sold to the public. While the NEA has stated specifically that registration does not tantamount to endorsement by them, the process is in place to at least ensure that the product is safe for use by the general public and contains the stated amount of active ingredients (i.e. there is no mislabeling). Hence it is important that you check for the registration mark plus registration number before making your purchase.
Registration mark aside, you should also make an effort to read the label to ensure that DEET is included as an active ingredient. It is known to be effective, provides longer lasting protection and is specifically mentioned in both the NEA and USA based CDC website.
Use Repellent the Right Way
For optimal protection, repellents must be applied correctly. Here are some of the dos and don’ts:
- When using on young children, read the label to ensure it is safe for them. For example, it is best not to use products which contain oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) on children under the age of 3. And if your baby is 2 month old or younger, it is best not to use repellent at all (opt for a baby carrier with mosquito net instead)
- When applying on kids, it is recommended to spray on your hands first before rubbing it on them, taking care to avoid the eyes, mouth and mucosal surfaces.
- Avoid using repellent containing DEET under their clothing
- Avoid areas with cuts, wound or damage skin
- When using sun protection products, be sure to apply them first before applying the mosquito repellent
Also important is to remember to bath them thoroughly to wash of all residue, once you are indoors and safe.
And in the event of an allergic reaction, do consult your family doctor immediately.
It is best to have them wear long sleeve clothes and pants as well as shoes that provide full coverage. Keep exposed skin to a minimal as far as possible. Also ensure that your children’s clothing material is not too thin as mosquitoes can bite through thin materials like spandex.
For added protection, you can get clothes treated with Permethrin to further keep these dreaded mosquitoes away from your kids.
Avoid Known Clusters
With young children, it’s best to play it safe. Hence, as far as possible, avoid bringing them to known Dengue or Zika clusters. The NEA has made it very convenient for us by keeping a record of these clusters…
Educate Your Kids
Educating your kids on the threat posed by mosquitoes (plus the need to take precaution) is equally important. It’s impossible for us parents to be around our children 24/7. The kids themselves must know the importance of taking precaution plus the right way to do it. For example, they should know the proper way to apply mosquito repellent. The best way to take care of our young is to teach them to take care of themselves.
While the above tips are useful, they are not 100% full proof. Hence, at all times, common sense should prevail (e.g. knowing what areas to avoid when with young children) when it comes to protecting our young.
Got some tips of your own on protecting children from infected Aedes mosquitoes? If so, please do let us know by commenting below. And if you happen to have friends with young children, do help by sharing this blog post with them. Simply use the social media button on this page if you wish to share.