Surge in dengue cases in Singapore

502 cases last month, up from April's 264, with Holland area hardest hit so far this month
Daryl Chin Straits Times 19 Aug 10;

DENGUE fever is back on the rise with 502 cases reported last month, up from 264 in April this year.

In April, there was an average of 66 cases reported a week. Last month, the figure jumped 91 per cent to about 126 cases weekly.

The only consolation is that the total number of dengue cases from January till the end of last month, at 2,608, is lower than the 3,050 cases during the same period last year.

The number of cases dipped slightly to 250 in May and then soared to 432 in June before rising to 502 last month.

As of yesterday, there were 11 clusters reported islandwide, with the area around Holland Hill and Holland Road being the hardest hit - with 33 cases reported. East Coast Road and Dunbar Walk was the second-most affected area with 16 reported cases.

The other nine clusters with less than 10 reported cases include Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, Choa Chu Kang Central, Serangoon Avenue 4 and Yishun Street 21.

When contacted, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that traditionally, dengue cases go up during the warmer months of May, June and July as the conditions enable the female Aedes mosquito, the carrier of dengue fever, to mature faster. The dengue virus also multiplies faster in warmer temperatures.

Residents along Holland Hill were concerned when The Straits Times spoke to them on Tuesday.

Ms Karen Lim, a mother of two living at Holland Hill Park condominium, said she became increasingly worried when she saw the tally of dengue cases there.

'My family has done as much as we can. We don't have potted plants or stagnant water so it's all up to our neighbours to play their part,' she added.

Mr Yeo B. C., a security officer at Holland Peak condominium, said he knows of at least four cases which have happened recently in the estate.

He added: 'I suspect the construction projects nearby could be responsible. But the NEA has been coming quite frequently so I think things will change.'

Along Holland Hill, two new projects are in the process of being built. One site has been fined $2,000 by the NEA for mosquito breeding.

Last month, the NEA issued a reminder, reported in The Straits Times, after a sharp spike in the number of dengue cases islandwide recently.

From January to June this year, 700 construction sites were found to have mosquito breeding, compared to 470 in the same period last year. Also, a total of 5,912 homes were found to have mosquito breeding in the first half of this year, compared to last year's 4,361 cases.

The agency also found 1,561 breeding habitats in the public areas of housing estates in the first six months of this year, as compared to 1,081 in the same period last year.

To combat this, NEA head of operations Tai Ji Choong advised all residents and management of buildings to be extra careful in keeping their homes and premises free of stagnant water.

'While NEA will continue with its intensified operations to search and remove mosquito breeding, premise owners, too, can play a part,' he added.

Members of the public can also call the Dengue Hotline on 1800-9336483 to report new cases or mosquito breeding sites.