Dengue cases on the rise as weather heats up

Jordan Skadiang Today Online 26 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE — The number of dengue cases in Singapore each week has continued to climb as the weather heats up, speeding up mosquito breeding.

A total of 556 cases were reported in the week ending June 21, up from 506 the previous week and more than double the 261 cases reported in the first week of last month, latest figures on the National Environment Agency (NEA) website showed.

Parts of Hougang and Serangoon that had been flagged as areas of concern by the NEA last week — more than 600 dengue cases have been reported in 17 clusters in those areas to date — continue to be hot spots.

For example, one cluster bordered by Upper Serangoon Road and Lorong Ah Soo had 161 reported cases as of Tuesday. Homes accounted for 13 out of the 17 breeding habitats spotted by officials in a recent inspection of the area. One unused cement mixer was found to contain 200 mosquito larvae, while a concrete roof gutter in a public area was found with 999 larvae.

The Flora Drive cluster in Tampines had the second-highest number of cases at 147. Twelve breeding sites were found in homes and nine in construction sites.

While last week’s tally falls short of the 842 reported in the corresponding period last year, the NEA has warned that the warmer weather — from this month to October — generally marks the peak season for dengue.

Shortened breeding and maturation cycles for the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the disease, along with shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus, lead to a higher rate of transmission. Moreover, the predominant strain is the less common dengue serotype 1 (DEN-1) virus, which the community has lower immunity against.

The NEA said the number of cases is expected to rise through the next two or three months unless the mosquito population is brought under control.

More officers will be deployed in the problem areas of Serangoon and Hougang as well as Flora Drive to search and destroy breeding sites. Drains will also be cleaned more frequently. Jordan Skadiang