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How to protect yourself against mozzies and the risk of zika

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Singapore is now part of the list of countries with cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus infections.

As of Monday (Aug 29),  a joint statement by the Ministry of Health and the National Environmental Agency put the confirmed number of local cases at 56

In the statement, they warned that with more people being referred to the Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) for screening, the number of cases could go up.

So here are some things that you can you do to reduce your chances of getting infected.

How is it spread?

The Aedes mosquito that carries the dengue virus and the Zika virus. PHOTO: ST FILE PHOTO

It is mainly spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.

Yes, it is those same nasty insects that also transmit dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

So what must I do to prevent myself from getting bitten by a mozzie?

Prevent yourselves from getting bitten by following these steps. PHOTO: ST FILE PHOTO

Wear light-coloured clothes that cover as much of the body as possible.

Sleep under a bed net or use a window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home.

Use insect repellent that has the chemical DEET as an active ingredient.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said that insect repellents with DEET is the most effective to prevent mosquito bites.

However, "bathing" yourself in repellent would not necessarily increase the level of protection, but just increase the length of time that you will be protected.

According to the NEA, the duration of how long a repellant remains effective depends on varying factors such as how hot is it, your level of physical activity and amount of perspiration. 

Generally, however, repellent with DEET concentration of 6 per cent will protect you for about two hours while a repellent with a concentration of 20 per cent will last for about four hours.

So be sure to regularly reapply the repellent. 

Insect repellents that uses other ingredients as citronella vary in effectiveness and has to be applied more frequently.

What about babies?

Generally, children should use repellents with lower concentrations of DEET.

It is not advisable for use on infants who are less than two months old. Use a mosquito net instead for infants.

Done, anything else?

As the old saying goes, "prevention is better than cure".

So, make sure to do your part to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

The Aedes mosquito prefers to breed in clean standing water, so constantly check and remove any standing water that can be found in and around your house.

This means you should cover unused bamboo pole holders, turning over all water storage containers and remove or change water from flower pots, bowls and vases regularly.

Where are the areas affected by the Zika virus:

Currently, NEA lists the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive area as an affected area because this is where the Zika cases first emerged.

Meanwhile, the areas below are listed areas of concern because some of those who tested positive for Zika either lived or worked in these areas.

Khatib Camp

Sembawang Drive

Kranji Road

Joo Chiat Place

Senoko South Road

Toh Guan Road East

Lor 101 Changi

Zika VirusmosquitoNEA