Singapore is in the grip of dengue fever yet again. Three persons have already died and 440 cases reported since June, compared to 318 during the same period last year. The blame of this rise is being put on alternate spells of hot weather and heavy downpours. "The current increase is according to the El Nio phenomenon. This kind of weather causes the dengue mosquito to breed and mature faster," a National Environment Agency spokesperson said.
El Nio, which has raised the surface temperature in parts of the Pacific Ocean and contributed to a rash of smoky fires raging in Indonesia, was the culprit behind a record 4,300 cases of dengue in Singapore in 1997. Even though health and environment officials do not apprehend as severe an outbreak since El Nio is not so fierce this year, they are on their toes. The island nation has waged a war against mosquito breeding by clearing standing water.
In view of the magnitude of the deadly disease this year, the environment agency has augmented its public education programme islandwide. Sachets of insecticide have also been distributed to residents whose gardens and potted plants are seen as prime and ideal breeding grounds.