SINGAPORE: The number of dengue cases in Singapore this year may exceed 30,000, higher than the record of 22,170 reported in 2013, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (Feb 18).
This is due to factors such as warmer conditions brought about by the El Nino weather phenomenon, faster breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquito population and a change in the main circulating dengue virus, said both agencies at a joint media briefing.
Singapore has seen more than 3,400 dengue cases reported since January, with two deaths so far.
NEA said the number of Aedes mosquito breeding found in homes has increased by 50 per cent compared to the same period in January 2015, with majority of breeding found in domestic containers and flower pot plates and trays.
The dominant dengue virus has also switched from DENV-1 to DENV-2. Historically, any change in predominant dengue virus serotype is usually followed by a spike in dengue cases, said NEA.
The environment agency also noted that the Zika virus is transmitted via the Aedes mosquito as well. MOH said its proposed Clinical Advisory Group for the Zika virus has already been set up and held its first meeting on Wednesday. The Group will advise medical practitioners on how to answer questions from concerned pregnant mothers. The Zika virus can spread from an infected mother to a foetus, possibly causing brain damage and microcephaly.
Authorities stated that they will continue with efforts to suppress the increasing Aedes mosquito population by closely monitoring and acting on dengue-active public areas and potential mosquito breeding habitats.
More than 126,000 inspections have been conducted islandwide since Jan 31, uncovering more than 1,900 instances of mosquito breeding.
Authorities also urged members of the public to play their part to keep dengue cases down.
Hence, the annual “Do the Mozzie Wipeout” campaign has been brought forward ahead of the traditional mid-year dengue peak season, announced NEA.
The campaign will be launched island-wide next Sunday (Feb 28), and calls on the community to take appropriate precautions to prevent mosquito breeding over a two-week period to cover two rounds of the mosquito breeding cycle.
More than 5,000 People's Association grassroots leaders and volunteers will conduct house visits in dengue cluster areas to disseminate prevention messages in the months ahead.
NEA said it has trained more than 5,800 Dengue Prevention Volunteers so far to help advise residents on anti-mosquito breeding and dengue prevention tips. More dengue alert banners will also be put up in cluster areas.