New dengue cases spike after 3 weeks of decline

The number of dengue cases reported in Singapore rose to 594 last week, up from the 419 cases reported in the previous week, according to the National Environment Agency.
Channel NewsAsia 23 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE: The number of new dengue cases in Singapore spiked to 594 in the week ending Feb 20, after a three-week decline which saw the number of reported cases falling to 419, according to latest figures published on the National Environment Agency (NEA) website.

Another 107 cases were reported between Feb 21 and 3.30pm on Feb 22.

A total of 4,072 dengue cases have been reported in Singapore since the start of the year. Two people - a 47-year-old man living in Marsiling Rise and a 67-year-old man living in Toa Payoh - have died of the disease so far.

The Ministry of Health and NEA have warned that the number of dengue cases in Singapore may exceed 30,000 this year, higher than the record of 22,170 reported in 2013.

This is due to factors such as warmer conditions brought about by the El Nino weather phenomenon, faster breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquito population and a change in the main circulating dengue virus, said both agencies at a joint media briefing.

The biggest cluster of dengue cases is now located in Yishun Ring Road and Yishun Street 81, with 109 cases reported, including nine in the past fortnight. A dengue cluster in Tampines, which was the biggest islandwide until last week, was taken off NEA’s list of high-risk areas after no new cases were reported in two weeks.

- CNA/cy

Fears of record dengue cases after 40 per cent spike last week
Samantha Boh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 24 Feb 16;

The number of dengue cases spiked by more than 40 per cent last week, raising fears that the virus could reach record levels this year.

After three consecutive weeks of decline, there were 594 reported cases between Feb 14 and 20, 175 more than in the previous week.

The National Environment Agency (NEA), which released the figures yesterday, stressed the need for vigilance, and urged the public to "continue taking action to stem the transmission of dengue".

Last week, the NEA warned that the total number of cases this year could surpass 30,000, exceeding the record 22,170 cases in 2013, as a result of warmer temperatures due to the El Nino weather phenomenon and a switch in the predominant virus serotype to DEN-2 from DEN-1.

El Nino, which causes warmer- than-usual temperatures, promotes faster breeding and shorter incubation times for the dengue virus, while the switch in serotype is historically followed by a spike in dengue cases due to lower immunity to the new strain.

Dengue clusters often die out spontaneously, according to Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University. "The reason is that a certain level of herd immunity builds up in an outbreak-affected community."

But doing nothing, to allow for the development of the herd immunity, risks the spread of the virus to other areas, resulting in the formation of new clusters, according to Associate Professor Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at the Duke-NUS Medical School.

However, the NEA said that with good control of the virus, fewer people get infected.

The NEA will step up efforts to eradicate dengue, including the launch of its Mozzie Wipeout Campaign on Sunday, which teaches residents how to prevent mosquito breeding in their homes.

Meanwhile, the country's largest active dengue cluster in Tampines - which has seen 280 cases at Tampines avenues 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8 since last November - has been declared "closed" by the NEA.

A cluster is closed when it has fewer than two cases over two weeks.

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