Pests that can carry diseases are also referred to as vectors. Given Singapore’s high population density, any outbreak of vector-borne diseases is likely to spread rapidly. NEA monitors the vector population to make sure that vector-borne diseases here are kept under control.
Tougher, Adaptable Agents Of Disease
Due to the loss of their original habitats from rapid urbanisation, these vectors have quickly adopted alternative breeding grounds in built-up areas. Coupled with increased resistance to pesticides, it is almost impossible to get rid of vectors completely.
New Vector-Borne Diseases
Air travel and trade mean that new vector-borne diseases can spread to Singapore through visiting travellers or returning locals.
Favourable Climate For Breeding
With climate change, increases in temperature and rainfall are expected. This may result in vectors thriving in new locations and maturing faster.
Surveillance And Control
NEA maintains a close watch on the rodent population to keep it under control. Since 01 June 2011, NEA's vector control technicians (VCTs) conduct systematic inspections of both HDB and non-HDB estates island-wide as part of a dedicated rodent surveillance and control team under NEA. Between 2005 and 2007, NEA co-funded a dedicated rodent control programme for HDB estates, termed "Rat Attack". There were three phases in the programme.
For mosquitoes, NEA officers visit premises at least once every 3 to 6 months to check for potential breeding spots and remove existing breeding grounds. NEA also carries out virus surveillance on patient blood samples submitted by healthcare providers, to track the different variations of the dengue virus circulating in the community.
Keeping Dengue At Bay
While we cannot get rid of vectors completely, we have successfully kept outbreaks of diseases at bay.
Since its set up in 2002, NEA’s Environmental Health Institute (EHI) has been conducting research, surveillance and risk assessments on vector-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria. Accurate and rapid diagnosis of such diseases is important as it helps to minimise the chances of transmission.