Thursday, July 30, 2015

Control the dengue menace by using colour coded banners

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THE PETALING Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has taken an aggressive measure to control the dengue menace by using colour coded banners to indicate the seriousness of the situation in neighbourhoods. 

Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said different colours of banners would indicate the number of cases and deaths in a neighbourhood and the preventive measures to adopt.

Yellow Banner

“If there are more than two confirmed cases in 14 days, a yellow banner with the total updated figures will be hung in the neighbourhood.

“If the cases increase and it exceeds two weeks, then the orange banner goes up,” he said.

He said the yellow banner was defined as the crucial period, and the area would be monitored for a week. The red banner would be put up when the number of cases reached 10 and the situation had dragged on for more than a month.

Red Banner

“Once the red banner goes up, it is classified as a hot spot.

“All dengue cases and deaths will be made known to the public,” he explained.

Mohd Azizi said these coloured banners were intended to instil “shock” and a call to action in the affected neighbourhoods and that it was directed at all the 650,000 Petaling Jaya residents.

“The main thrust in this approach is weekly preventive field surveillance, community involvement and public education as a long-term solution.”

He added that the council’s Health and Environment Department was concerned that cases were likely to go up due to the spate of short showers of rain that would result in fresh stagnant water without a flushing effect.

A total of 5,331 dengue cases have been reported from January until July 22 this year, with 11 deaths, he said.

Mohd Azizi also said that some residents were against the coloured banners idea with the strongest objections coming from real estate agents. He said they feared that such colour coded banners with figures of dengue cases would make it difficult to sell properties and ruin the market in a particular neighbourhood.

“I am not worried about the real estate agents’ objections. I am only concerned for the people’s health,” he added.

MBPJ’s Dengue Taskforce would go into the dengue active neighbourhood for a total clean-up and implement preventive measures to ensure cases did not increase further. The measures included checking all houses and shoplots for Aedes mosquitoes’ breeding grounds.

MBPJ Health and Environment Department director Dr Chitra Davi N. Vadivellu said the classic symptoms of dengue were high fever, headache, body ache (body muscle and bone), weakness, vomitting, sore throat, altered taste sensation and a centrifugal maculopapular rash, among others. 

“Because of the unbearable pain, the term breakbone fever is used to describe dengue fever,” she said.

Treatment is limited to intravenous drips as there is no vaccine available. Those with dengue fever can slip into dengue haemorrhagic fever if their blood platelet count decreased drastically.

Mohd Azizi advised all residents to be vigilant in taking 10 minutes to inspect their homes twice a week for stagnant water and empty containers.

Council Health and Environment Department senior health inspectors make regular visits to the 83 schools in Petaling Jaya as part of efforts to combat the disease in the 35 identified hot spots.

Petaling Jaya councillor Raja Fairuz Raja Mazlan, who is in charge of PJS 1 and PJS 3, said she was in total support of field surveillance.

“Azizi’s idea is strategic, as source reduction is the right step to deprive mosquitoes of breeding sites. “Health inspectors must be active in areas prone to dengue,” she said.

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