Zika cases hit 215 on Sat, as analysis shows Asian lineage of virus in Singapore

Today Online 3 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE — An analysis of the Zika virus found in two patients from the Aljunied Cresent/ Sims Drive cluster showed that the virus belongs to the Asian lineage and likely evolved from the strain that was already circulating in South-east Asia, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

The virus from these patients was not imported from South America, the MOH added of the finding concluded by the National Public Health Laboratory and A*STAR’s Bioinformatics Institute after completing genetic sequencing of the virus.

In MOH's latest update, 26 new cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection in Singapore have been confirmed as of 12pm on Saturday (Sept 3), bringing the total number of cases to 215.

Of these, 24 cases are linked to the the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive/ Kallang Way/ Paya Lebar Way cluster.

Two cases have no known links to any existing cluster, said the MOH.

The Republic announced its first locally contracted case of Zika last Saturday.

The Aedes mosquito-borne Zika, which has been detected in 67 countries and territories including hard-hit Brazil, causes only mild symptoms for most people such as fever and a rash.

But pregnant women who catch it can give birth to babies with microcephaly, a deformation marked by abnormally small brains and heads.

Malaysia on Saturday confirmed its first locally transmitted case of Zika infection in a man living in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah.

This comes two days after the first case on Malaysian soil was reported in a woman who is believed to have contracted it while visiting her daughter in neighbouring Singapore. WITH AFP


Zika cases in Singapore top 200
Sequencing analysis of two patients from the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive cluster show the virus is likely from a Southeast Asia strain and not imported from South America, authorities say.
Channel NewsAsia 3 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: There are 26 new cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in Singapore, authorities said on Saturday (Sep 3), bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 215.

In a joint statement, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) said 24 of the new cases are linked to the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive/Kallang Way/Paya Lebar Way cluster.

They added that two cases have no known links to any existing cluster, but did not specify where these cases were located.

Meanwhile, the National Public Health Laboratory has worked with A*STAR’s Bioinformatics Institute to complete the sequencing analysis of the Zika virus found in two patients from the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive cluster, and the analysis indicated that the virus belongs to the Asian lineage and likely evolved from the strain that was already circulating in Southeast Asia, MOH and NEA said.

They added that the virus from these two patients was not imported from South America, and that more details will be released shortly from the research team.

NEA said it has been continuing with vector control operations in high-risk areas such as Aljunied Crescent, Sims Drive, Paya Lebar Way and Kallang Way.

As of Sep 2, 57 breeding habitats – comprising 32 in homes and 25 in common areas or other premises – have been detected and destroyed in these clusters, the agency said. NEA officers and grassroots volunteers are also continuing with outreach in the expanded cluster areas like Paya Lebar Way and Kallang Way.

Vector control operations and outreach efforts are also being carried out in Bedok North Avenue. NEA said that as of Sep 2, 26 breeding habitats in Bedok North Avenue – comprising 17 in homes and 9 in common areas or other premises – have been detected and destroyed. Mosquito control measures are ongoing, while NEA officers are continuing with outreach in this cluster as well.

Indoor spraying of insecticides, outdoor fogging, and oiling and flushing of drains are also underway in these two cluster areas. “In such areas with active transmission, outdoor fogging and indoor spraying and misting are both necessary because there may be infected adult mosquitoes in both outdoor and indoor areas that need to be destroyed before they bite and infect more people,” NEA said.

“These methods are, however, only effective if the insecticide has direct contact with the mosquitoes, and thus have to be repeated frequently as new batches of mosquitoes will continue to emerge until all breeding habitats are found and removed. Hence, routine fogging is not a sustainable vector control measure – source reduction is still a more effective and sustainable strategy.”

Meanwhile for non-cluster areas, NEA said that the most effective mosquito-control measure remains as source reduction, through detecting and removing breeding habitats and killing larvae, “as it eliminates the mosquitoes at the most vulnerable stage of their life cycle”. This is in line with WHO’s recommendations for vector control.

The statement on Saturday said that community outreach activities are being conducted across the island over these two weekends to urge all residents to join in the collective efforts in the fight against the mosquito-borne virus.

- CNA/sk


Live normally and tackle Zika at its source: DPM Teo
Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 3 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: Live life as normally as possible even as Singapore steps up its fight against Zika, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Saturday (Sep 3) during a walkabout in Pasir Ris where he met residents and helped spread the awareness about the virus.

Mr Teo said Singaporeans are taking the fight against the mosquito-borne virus seriously, and urged them to work together and deal with the virus by getting rid of the Aedes mosquito.

"I would say that the most important thing is to deal with Zika in an appropriate manner… which is good collection of information, dissemination of information, and attacking the problem, which is attacking the mosquitoes and their breeding ground," he said.

When asked how Singapore can work more closely with neighbouring countries to battle the virus, Mr Teo said countries can share best practices and health information with one another.

Speaking to the media after making the rounds in his constituency, DPM Teo Chee Hean said Singaporeans can deal with Zika by living life as normally as possible and attack the virus at its source. (Photo: Leong Wai Kit)

As of Friday, there has been 189 confirmed cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection in the Republic.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it is continuing with vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in Aljunied Crescent, Sims Drive, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way. As of Sep 1, 55 breeding habitats – comprising 30 in homes and 25 in common areas or other premises – have been detected and destroyed, the agency said.

- CNA/sk

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