Friday, August 22, 2008

Mosquito Watch

All over Singapore, you see signs on buses, billboards, and posters about how you can prevent the spread of Dengue fever. Dengue fever is a virus transmitted by a specific type of mosquito that feeds during the day. It's sometimes called the "bone-break fever" because of the immense headaches and joint pain associated with infection. The infection lasts 6-7 days and can be fatal to the weak and the young. The main means of prevention is through control of the mosquito population.

I've always thought that the constant ad campaign was just a symptom to the Singaporean nanny state mentality. It seems once again, Matt is an idiot.

Last night we gave one of our neighbors a ride home from "SAS back to school nite" and she mentioned that she was grateful for the ride because she was scared about having to walk home. This being one of the most affluent neighborhoods in all of northern Singapore, I told her I was surprised that she didn't feel safe.

"The mosquitoes," she said. "With so much Dengue recently, I hate to walk around outside at dusk."

When I asked, she went on to say that she'd heard about 4 cases in our part of Singapore recently. One was an employee at SAS.

I looked online today to see what I could learn. From the news reports, we're in the middle of a Dengue outbreak. The number of outbreaks this year are 60% higher than they were during the same period last year.

In 2007 there were 8,826 infection and 20 deaths. This is out of a population of a bit over 4 million.

I've now learned that having standing water on your property, such as rainwater in empty flower pots or old tires, is grounds for a fine of up to S$200. Ads for insecticide are all over the place and it's recommended by the government that you use it in the dark corners of your home where the mosquitoes may be hiding.

I'm trying to put all of this into perspective. What can I compare this to in Houston? It's a city of about the same size. How may people die of snake bites every year in Houston? I dunno. I just know that I've been reminded once again that no matter how westernized this city is, it's still just a small concrete village in the middle of a large tropical wilderness. Welcome to the jungle.

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