Thursday, September 29, 2005

Can NEA publish a weekly listing of cluster sites found breeding mosquitoes?

In an article in Today (29 Sept 2005 - see below), it was reported that of the 220 mosquito-breeding habitats found over the weekend, some 70% were found in public areas (like scupper drains, discarded recepticles in the open, etc.)

Over the last two weekends when intensive combing for mosquito-breeding sites was done, a total of 329 breeding sites were found. What is more worrying is that some 4,139 potential breeding sites have been found during the these two weekends (Straits Times, 29 Sept - "Shop assistant dies from dengue; third victim this month").

While the decision by the NEA to publish the weekly "Location of Active Clusters" is a step in the right direction, what is equally useful is to include another weekly listing of cluster sites found breeding mosquitoes.

Hopefully, with this new listing, residents will be more vigilant to ensure their areas are regularly maintained. Besides, it can act as a deterrent as I'm sure both residents and town councils will not want their areas to be listed too frequently?

Jeff Ho


Dengue cure's long wait
Tan Hui

ALTHOUGH dengue has been around for centuries, most health authorities only allocate resources to it when there are epidemics.
Due to this neglect, it would be some time before the world gets a vaccine for dengue, said Professor Paul Herrling, head of corporate research at Novartis International, who is in town with 300 other scientists for the second Asian Regional Dengue Research Network Meeting.
"You have to keep in mind the drug discovery or circle is more than 15 years," he said.
"So we are very much in the beginning of this process. We might have the first drug to be tested on humans after 2008. And in 2012 or 2013, we might have the first drug for patients in general."
One of the labs working on a cure is the Novartis Institute of Tropical Diseases (NITD), which was set up at the Biopolis two years ago. It aims to develop a drug that can stop the replication of the virus in the human body.
Prof Herrling said the lack of a suitable animal model for testing makes finding a solution difficult as scientists cannot ascertain the virulence of the dengue strains.
But he is confident that a cure can be found as the NITD continues researching into the basics of the dengue virus, which the world knows very little about.
Other drug companies are also working on a dengue vaccine, but Prof Herrling said it is anyone's guess if a vaccine would be available in the next six to 10 years as there are four types of dengue.
Scientists in the three-day meeting discuss strategies for vaccine and therapeutics for dengue and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks.
Meanwhile, there were 104 cases of dengue reported between 3pm on Tuesday to 3pm yesterday, a drop from the 157 reported the previous day. There was one fatality yesterday, bringing the number of deaths from dengue this year to 12.
The National Environmental Agency yesterday reported that a total of 220 mosquito-breeding habitats were found and destroyed during its second carpet combing operation over the weekend.
This represents an average of one breeding site found for every 11 blocks of flats.
Half of the habitats were found in scupper drains, pump rooms, joss-paper burners, gully traps, manholes and telecom chamber covers.
About a third of the habitats were detected in flowerpot trays, water jars and containers found along common corridors.
Another one in five were in discarded receptacles left in the open.


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