First case of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection reported in Singapore: MOH, NEA

Channel NewsAsia 27 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: A 47-year-old Malaysian woman living at Block 102 Aljunied Crescent is Singapore's first reported case of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Saturday (Aug 27).

As she had not travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, she was likely to have been infected in Singapore, MOH and NEA said in a joint news release.

According to MOH and NEA, the patient had developed symptoms such as fever, rash and conjunctivitis from Thursday. She visited a general practitioner (GP) on Friday and was referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC), where she tested positive for the Zika virus on Saturday.

“She has since been hospitalised for observation at the CDC. The patient is currently well and recovering,” the news release said.

MOH is screening the patient’s close contacts, including household members, the release stated, adding that it is also carrying out Zika testing on others living and working in the area, who have symptoms of fever and rash.

“At this point, three other suspect cases - two in a family who live in the area and an individual who works in the area - had preliminarily tested positive based on their urine samples. They are pending further confirmation tests,” the release stated.

The release said MOH has alerted all GPs around the patient’s home and workplace to be extra vigilant and to immediately report patients with symptoms associated with Zika virus infection to MOH. As an added precaution, all suspect Zika cases will be isolated while awaiting confirmation of the blood test results, the release added.

“MOH and NEA will also actively alert residents in the vicinity to seek medical attention should they develop symptoms,” the release said.

This comes after Singapore reported its first imported Zika case on May 13. The patient, a 48-year-old man, had travelled to Brazil from Mar 27 to May 7.

“With the presence of Zika in our region and the volume of travel by Singaporeans as well as tourists, it is inevitable that there will be imported cases of Zika into Singapore. There is also risk of subsequent local transmission, as the Aedes mosquito vector is present here. While MOH and NEA have stepped up precautionary measures, we expect that there may be further cases, as most infected persons may display mild or no symptoms,” the release added.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said: “MOH and NEA are working together to carry out vector control and testing of residents in that area with fever and rashes so as to reduce the risk of further spread. I encourage those who are unwell and with these symptoms to visit their doctors for medical attention. We have also alerted our clinics in the area to look out for suspect cases and refer them to the CDC for testing."

INTENSIFIED VECTOR CONTROL OPERATIONS IN VICINITY OF ALJUNIED CRESCENT

The release also said NEA has intensified vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in the vicinity of Aljunied Crescent by deploying about 100 officers to inspect the area.

These include:

Inspecting all premises, ground and congregation areas
Conducting mandatory treatment such as ultra-low volume (ULV) misting of premises and thermal fogging of outdoor areas to kill adult mosquitoes
Increasing frequency of drain flushing and oiling to prevent breeding
Public education outreach and distribution of insect repellents
When Channel NewsAsia visited Aljunied Crescent on Saturday evening, NEA flyers were seen on lift landings, informing residents of the symptoms and dangers of the Zika virus. There were also flyers stating that fogging would be carried out on Sunday, due to dengue cases in the area.

“NEA is also conducting outreach efforts and distributing Zika information leaflets and insect repellents to residents living in the area,” the release said.

Additionally, the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force will be activated to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading further.

The release also noted that the patient’s residence at Aljunied Crescent is not located in an active dengue cluster, but there are two active dengue clusters nearby, each with two cases. It added that as the majority of people infected with the virus do not show symptoms, it is possible that some transmission may already have taken place before this case of Zika was notified.

“Hence, even as NEA conducts operations to contain the transmission of the Zika virus, residents are urged to cooperate fully with NEA and allow its officers to inspect their premises for mosquito breeding and to spray insecticide to kill any mosquitoes. NEA may need to gain entry into inaccessible premises by force after serving of requisite Notices, to ensure any breeding habitats are destroyed quickly,” the release said.

Authorities also urged members of the public to take immediate steps to prevent mosquito breeding in homes by doing the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout every alternate day, and protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying insect repellent regularly.

“Zika is generally a mild disease. It may cause a viral fever similar to dengue or chikungunya, with fever, skin rashes, body aches, and headache. But many people infected with the Zika virus infection do not even develop symptoms,” the release stated.

“Zika virus infection can however cause microcephaly in the unborn foetuses of pregnant women. We advise residents, especially pregnant women, in the Aljunied Crescent area to monitor their health. They should seek medical attention if they are unwell, especially with symptoms such as fever and rash. They should also inform their doctors of the location of their residence and workplace. Those without these symptoms but who are concerned that they have been infected with the Zika virus should consult and follow the advice of their doctors regarding the monitoring of their pregnancy,” the release added.

Members of the public should refer to MOH’s webpage on Zika for the latest health advisory, authorities added.

- CNA/dl


Marine Parade Town Council stepping up Zika preventive measures
Channel NewsAsia 27 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: Member of Parliament for MacPherson Tin Pei Ling has said she expects to get more information on the first locally-transmitted case of Zika from the Health Ministry (MOH) on Sunday (Aug 28). The 47-year-old woman who was infected lives in her constituency, which comes under the Marine Parade Town Council.

In a Facebook post, Ms Tin said she is "deeply concerned" and is in touch with MOH to receive regular updates on the matter.

"In particular, I am keen to find out whether she had been infected at her home or elsewhere outside of MacPherson. I expect more information to be available from MOH tomorrow," she said.

Ms Tin said regardless of the source of transmission, the town council will be taking increased steps to curb mosquito breeding in the area. "We have been active and vigilant, but I have decided to enhance our efforts nonetheless."

She said that while the vicinity around Block 102, Aljunied Crescent, where the woman lives, is not an active dengue cluster, NEA will be thermal fogging the area on Sunday as an added precaution.

A spokesperson for the Marine Parade Town Council told Channel NewsAsia other measures include stepping up the flushing of drains, and oiling them twice a week. Typically, the town council flushes drains only if there is a “serious dengue cluster” in the area. This is to conserve water. It also oils drains once a fortnight.

Ms Tin said grassroots leaders are also visiting residents and distributing mosquito repellent to residents. She urged residents to cooperate with NEA, which will be stepping up inspections.

She also urged pregnant women to monitor their health carefully as Zika has been known to affect the development of an unborn child. "I sincerely urge the authorities to actively look into how our pregnant ladies can be better protected," she said.

- CNA/mo


Singapore sees first locally transmitted Zika infection
Today Online 27 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE — A 47-year old Malaysian woman residing at Block 102 Aljunied Crescent has contracted the Zika virus in what is believed to be the first locally transmitted case.

The woman had not travelled to Zika-infected areas recently so health officials said she is likely to have been infected in Singapore.

The unnamed woman went to see her local GP on Friday after developing a fever, rash and conjunctivitus a day earlier and was then referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC).

She tested positive for Zika on Saturday.

She was hospitalised at the CDC and put under observation where she is said to be recovering well.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is screening her close contacts, including members of her household. The MOH is also carrying out Zika tests on others living and working in the same area who have developed similar symptoms, while GPs in the locality have also been told to keep an eye out and refer any suspected cases.

Three more suspected cases, two members of a family who reside in the same area and a person who works in the area, had "preliminarily tested positive based on urine samples", according to MOH. Health officials are now waiting for the results of further tests for confirmation.

The MOH and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have stepped up precautionary measures in response, but said there may be other cases, as many infected persons display mild or no symptoms.

Minister of Health Mr Gan Kim Yong, said, “MOH and NEA are working together to carry out vector control and testing of residents in that area with fever and rashes so as to reduce the risk of further spread. I encourage those who are unwell and with these symptoms to visit their doctors for medical attention."

A 48-year-old man who travelled to Brazil became the Republic’s first Zika patient on May 13.

At the time, the MOH and the NEA warned that a local case of Zika infection was inevitable.

The NEA said it has stepped up vector control operations in a bid to control the population of Aedes mosquitoes in the Aljunied Crescent area, deploying about 100 officers to inspect the area. NEA is also conducting outreach efforts and handing out Zika leaflets and insect repellent to local residents.

The MOH will provide updates on any further developments. Members of the public should refer to the MOH’s webpage on Zika for further information (www.moh.gov.sg/zika).

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