Jun 21, 2013

    NEA: No proof that haze reduces dengue cases

    AS SINGAPORE skies remain shrouded by haze, some people have speculated that it might help combat the dengue scourge.

    The hypothesis making its rounds online is that haze might be able to kill mosquitoes.

    Aedes mosquitoes spread the dengue virus.

    But it might not be wise to let down your guard against dengue, going by statements from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

    When contacted, an NEA spokesman said "there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that haze may reduce the impact of dengue".

    She noted that a study had shown "no association between dengue activity and haze".

    The study was published by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, National University of Singapore (NUS), Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore Clinical Research Institute in 2010.

    The spokesman pointed to scientific correspondence in 2010 involving Duke-NUS, DSO National Laboratories, NUS, NEA's Environmental Health Institute and the University of Hawaii.

    It highlighted that although haze blanketed much of South-east Asia - including Singapore - from late 1997 to early 1998, the number of dengue cases here in those years was the highest recorded in the 1990s.

    "Dengue cases were similarly high in other South-east Asian countries during this period," she said.

    The number of new dengue cases each week does not seem to be falling.

    In the week ending June 1, 746 dengue cases were reported. For the week ending June 8, the number was 815.

    In the week ending last Saturday, it was 810. From Sunday till 3pm on Wednesday, there were 407 cases.

    The NEA no longer fogs to kill mosquitoes, The Straits Times reported in January. This is because fogging is neither sustainable nor effective, said an agency spokesman then.

    NEA also said that fogging exercises might not be able to eradicate all mosquitoes.

    Rather, removing breeding sources are more effective, it said, in a report by The Straits Times in March.