Coils from India, repellant bracelets: How UAE residents are coping with rise in mosquitoes

The country is running several programmes to combat the increasing population of the pest

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: AP file
Photo: AP file

Published: Mon 8 Apr 2024, 6:27 PM

Last updated: Mon 8 Apr 2024, 10:57 PM

When Dubai resident Azeeja Aman’s parents visited her from India, along with the goodies they brought were a box of mosquito coils and mosquito repellent liquids. “It has become practically impossible for us to sit out in the garden since the last year or so,” she said. “So I asked my parents to bring me some of the repellents from India because it is much more common there, as mosquitoes are huge menace.”

Living in a new Dubai community by Al Qudra road, the biggest concern for Azeeja is her toddler. “The mosquito bites not only leave red, itchy marks on her skin which she keeps scratching but I am also worried about dengue,” she said. “I have read on social media groups about how people have contracted the fever despite not having travelled out of the UAE in recent times. It is extremely worrying for me because my daughter is so young.”


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Many UAE residents are complaining of an increasing number of mosquitoes in various parts of the country. The UAE’ Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has an ongoing program to survey, monitor and eliminate mosquitoes, coinciding with the rainy season – which is the breeding season for the pests.


Dengue cases

Healthcare operators have confirmed to Khaleej Times that they have seen instances of dengue - a viral infection that spreads from mosquitoes to people.

Aster DM healthcare has seen more than 60 cases of dengue across several of its hospitals in the last three months. According to Dr Grace Fabrizia Graziani, Specialist Family Medicine at Aster Royal Clinic in Arabian Ranches, this is in line with global reports. “Dengue remains a significant public health concern, with cyclical outbreaks causing substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide,” she said. “The latest WHO report on the global situation in 2023 paints a concerning picture of rising case numbers and geographical spread.”

Across the border in Abu Dhabi as well, there have been confirmed cases of the fever. “We’ve observed a surge in suspected cases over the past few months,” said Dr Dima Ibrahim, Specialist Infectious Diseases at Burjeel Medical City. “The most commonly reported symptoms include fever, headache, body and joint pains, and rash,” she said. “In more severe cases, haemorrhagic manifestations may occur, characterized by bleeding and ecchymosis.”

Resident of a popular community in Dubai, Shehnaz M. said that mosquitoes were a huge issue. “In the last couple of months, two people from our community have been hospitalised with dengue,” she said. “There have been many discussions on what to do about it but it doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere.”

Government efforts

In 2022, MOCCAE announced the start of the second phase of the National Mosquito Control Program in cooperation with Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) and in coordination with the concerned local government departments in each emirate.

Scheduled to run till 2025, the program aims to survey and monitor mosquito infestation areas and control the spread of the pests.

In Sharjah, several residents have reported seeing smart mosquito traps by MOHAP in places around the emirate. One reader shared the device around the King Faisal Mosque area.

KT Photo: Edwin D'Mello
KT Photo: Edwin D'Mello

Sharjah resident Dr Sumeira said she had seen a huge increase in mosquitoes since the rains. “I have three young children and I began to notice them getting bitten a lot more,” she said. “So we started taking small steps like closing the doors and windows during the early evening and putting mosquito repellent bracelets when we sat outside in the garden. A few weeks after the rains, there was a municipality drive that fogged our area. Since then, it has become much better.”

Precautionary measures

Medical professionals are cautioning residents to take measure to avoid contracting dengue. “To prevent dengue, it's crucial to take measures to avoid mosquito bites, such as using mosquito repellent, applying insecticides, and wearing long-sleeved clothing,” said Dr Dima.

As of now, no antiviral medication is available to treat dengue and doctors concentrate on addressing the symptoms and preventing complications. In severe cases, the patient is hospitalised.

Dr Grace said it was important to reduce mosquito breeding sites around the home by eliminating stagnant water. “Empty and clean containers like buckets, tires, and flower pots at least once a week,” she said. “Also, apply EPA-registered insect repellents to exposed skin when outdoors, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Install and maintain screens on windows and doors. Consider using mosquito coils or indoor insecticide sprays, but be mindful of proper ventilation and follow label instructions carefully.”

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