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Saturday October 15, 2005

Second killer species found

PUTRAJAYA: The Aedes albopictus mosquito, which breeds outdoors and is found in abundance at jungle fringes, has also been transmitting the virus that causes dengue fever. 

According to Disease Control Department director Dr Ramlee Rahmat, cases reported in rural areas and Felda schemes led to the finding that besides the Aedes aegypti, the principal carrier, the albopictus was also spreading dengue. 

“We are getting reports of dengue cases from sub-urban areas and small towns like Jempol in Negri Sembilan as well as from Felda schemes. 

“We are concentrating on fogging, as the albopictus breeds outside homes in places that have trees and leaves,” he told a press briefing here yesterday on the dengue situation in the country. 

However, he said, fogging would only be carried out if there were known dengue cases in the area, as too much fogging could cause the mosquito to build up resistance to the chemical. 

Dr Ramlee said 724 new cases were reported over the last five days, putting the total number of confirmed cases this year at 30,544, with 76 deaths. 

The department will seek the views of botanists and relevant groups on the viability of having the serai wangi (citronella) in people’s homes and their immediate surroundings as a mosquito repellent. 

Theoretically, he said, the approach should work because citronella oil was used in balms, sprays and pellets to repel insects, including mosquitoes. 

Dr Ramlee said his department had sought the help of local entomologists, scientists, research facilities and universities to come up with more ways to deal with the dengue problem. 

“We also met with the construction industry players on Thursday to seek their cooperation in ensuring that building sites are free of aedes breeding grounds,” he said.  

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