Dengue danger: 7,000 cases already

Epidemic may outstrip 2005 record of 14,000; 70% of breeding spots found in homes
David Ee Straits Times 19 May 13;

Singapore's dengue epidemic is showing no signs of easing and has hit 7,000 infections so far this year.

More worryingly, infection numbers for each new week are continuing to escalate, reaching a six-year high.

Latest figures show 562 cases in the second week of this month. For the six days from last Sunday to Friday, 510 people were diagnosed - yesterday's figure was not available. This is up sharply from weekly infections earlier in the year.

There are usually fewer than 100 infections a week this early in the year. And with the warmer mid-year months still to come, the outbreak could worsen further.

Heat shortens the Aedes mosquito's growth process, which could send it into breeding mode more quickly, the National Environment Agency has warned.

The latest figures show that, contrary to recent concerns, construction sites comprise only about 5 per cent of mosquito breeding grounds found.

Rather, people are likely to be infected by mosquitoes bred either in their own homes or those of their neighbours, the NEA's deputy director Tang Choon Siang said. These account for up to 70 per cent of breeding grounds.

But builders are doing their part to tackle the dengue scourge as well. This weekend, workers will scour more than 150 worksites for breeding mosquitoes, in an effort organised by the Singapore Contractors Association Limited.

Experts have expressed concern that this year's outbreak could outstrip 2005's, the previous record, which hit 14,000 people, killing 25.

There have been no deaths so far this year.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan warned last month that it was only a matter of time before the epidemic moves west across the island, from the east where the worst dengue clusters lie.

The NEA has reacted by waiting just a week instead of two to forcibly enter homes in dengue hot spots if residents do not allow them in to check for breeding sites.

The agency has also intensified its efforts to check homes, parks and drains, especially in hot spots, the largest two of which are in Tampines.

Sixteen clusters are currently labelled "high-risk", a slight drop from 19 a week ago.

Dengue cases in S'pore reach 7,000 mark
Olivia Siong Channel NewsAsia 18 May 13;

SINGAPORE: The total number of dengue cases in Singapore reached the 7,000 mark as of 3pm on Friday.

This is higher than the total number of cases reported for the whole of 2012 and in 2011. There were 4,632 cases reported in 2012 and 5,330 reported in 2011.

There has been however, a slight dip in the number of cases reported in the past week.

There were 510 cases reported in the week ending 17 May as of 3pm, compared to 562 the week before.

Of the 7,000 cases, 159 are in construction sites. That is more than double the number reported last year.

There were 71 cases reported in construction sites in 2012, about 1.5 per cent of total dengue cases in 2012.

This makes up 2.3 per cent of the total dengue cases reported.

Ho Ngok Yong, president of SCAL, said: "We want to make sure that, preferably zero (per cent) because all our construction sites now, you can see these buildings, are very near to residential places. Proximity is very close. Any outbreak therefore will affect residents."

Derek Ho, director-general of public health at National Environment Agency, said: "We've only found about five per cent of breeding habitats that's from construction sites. In fact the majority of breeding habitats are still within homes, about 70 per cent of the breeding (sites). But we think it's very important that all stakeholders in the community do their part to eradicate potential mosquito breeding habitats."

There were about 638 mosquito breeding sites found in construction sites so far this year. A total of 722 sites were found in construction sites in 2012.

The association has mobilised more than 150 construction sites to join the fight against dengue.

It has adopted several practices to prevent mosquito breeding at its premises.

These include levelling uneven ground to prevent water from collecting and spraying oil on drainage areas.

- CNA/xq