I don’t appear to get bitten by mosquitoes so wander most areas comfortably in shorts. However, I have field and teaching assistants with me who look like they have been mugged after accompanying me without an application of insect repellent. The forest areas, even the mangroves are fine, but when chatting at an urban site at the edge of a forest or prior to entering a field site, I have seen them grab their ankles when everything else is covered in proper field attire!
So I learnt to be alert to the vulnerability of others. Which is useful when you send loads of students (about 300 over two modules) to the field repeatedly. One of things I do is check for updates on the most common mosquito-borne viral diseases. Students (even the vulnerable ones) will forget to bring or apply repellent and get mauled by mosquitoes in the process. At the very least it means they can’t concentrate on the lesson but at the other end of the spectrum is having someone come down with a viral disease. Yes, best avoided.
Besides warning students about repellent application during the lecture, by email and just before we set out for a field trip (the TAs do the latter), I look at the NEA webpage to see if we need to escalate our warnings. It’s easy these days with www.dengue.gov.sg. It has all sorts of useful information and links to relevant, existing pages, e.g. see this about repellent. Only thing I wish it had was a link to the archives, so I have written in to ask.
This week the west appears clear. It’s a guide and not definitive, I must emphasise, but still useful:
Right now of course, there is also Chikungunya to be alert about. Even if their home may be a greater threat than anyplace we visit, monitoring all of this information is part of a standard procedure that helps me prepare for and hopefully avoid problems.
“Four more down with chikungunya,” by Sujin Thomas. The Straits Times, 20 Aug 2008. [NEA press release, 19 Aug 2008]
A 62-YEAR-OLD housewife from Choa Chu Kang is among four new people confirmed to have caught chikungunya, officials said yesterday.
The new cases stretched from Kranji to Pasir Panjang, bringing the total number reported this year to 128, according to the Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency (NEA).
The most recent cases were in three areas – Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, Kranji Way and Sungei Kadut – that have been battling outbreaks of the dengue-like disease in recent weeks.
The woman in the latest case developed symptoms last Saturday and was hospitalised the same day. She tested positive on Monday for the virus, which causes fever, nausea and muscle aches. In rare cases it can be fatal.
This comes about a week after her 32-year-old daughter and 61-year-old husband also tested positive for the virus. Her daughter, who developed symptoms on Aug 8, has since recovered. Her husband remains in hospital.
The three had not travelled overseas recently and had stuck around their home and their workplace, the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.
Officers from the NEA have fanned out across the Pasir Panjang fruit and vegetable distribution centre and the surrounding area. So far, they have found and destroyed five mosquito-breeding sites.
In the Kranji Way cluster, a 34-year-old Indian national who works and lives at Kranji Crescent tested positive for the disease. Up to 70 NEA officers have been deployed in the area around Kranji Way, covering Kranji Loop, Kranji Road, Kranji Link and Sungei Kadut.
In the Sungei Kadut cluster, a 36-year-old Chinese national who works and lives at Sungei Kadut Street 1 and a 48-year-old Singaporean who works at Sungei Kadut Street 6 tested positive.