Dengue cases may increase in next few months

Channel NewsAsia 19 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: The number of dengue cases could increase in the next few months and peak in the middle of the year, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday (Jan 19).

A key concern is the higher population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the past month. NEA’s Gravitrap surveillance system detected about 60 per cent more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in December 2016 compared to October that same year.

Another factor which may lead to an increase in dengue cases is the high diversity of circulating dengue serotypes or strains. DENV-2 dominated much of 2016, but it is uncertain which serotype will prevail in 2017.

"Historically, a change in predominant dengue virus serotype has been followed by a spike in dengue cases," said NEA. "The Ministry of Health and NEA will continue to monitor the situation closely."

So far this year, the number of dengue cases has been relatively low. According to latest data on NEA’s website, 202 cases have been recorded since the start of the year.

“If left unchecked, the high Aedes aegypti population may lead to a surge in dengue cases in 2017,” said NEA in a media release. “NEA therefore urges all members of the public and stakeholders to stay vigilant, and work together as a community to stem dengue transmission.”

DENGUE SITUATION IN 2016

Last year, there were a total of 13,115 dengue cases, far less than the projected number of more than 30,000 cases that experts had feared.

After a surge in the number of cases in early 2016, the situation was brought under control and remained so for the rest of the year, said NEA. It brought forward the annual Do the Mozzie Wipeout Campaign to February to tackle the problem.

In 2016, NEA uncovered more than 16,000 instances of mosquito breeding habitats and about 3,900 households were fined for mosquito breeding, said NEA. This followed more than 1.2 million inspections, including 7.400 conducted on construction sites.

STAY VIGILANT: NEA

With Chinese New Year approaching, NEA is urging residents to prevent mosquito breeding, such as in ornamental plant containers. It is also reminded homeowners doing spring cleaning to properly dispose of any refuse to avoid discarded material from becoming unintentional mosquito breeding habitats.

Those planning to go overseas should also mosquito-proof their homes before they travel, said NEA. They should also cover all toilet bowls at home.

“Persons infected with dengue should protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying repellent regularly, and those showing symptoms suggestive of dengue should see their doctors early to be diagnosed,” the agency added.

- CNA/ek

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