Spike in dengue cases; numbers could climb due to increased circulation of new strain

Spike in dengue cases; numbers could climb due to increased circulation of new strain

Singapore - dengue fogging, mosquitoes
A worker fogs a housing estate in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Dengue cases have spiked over the past two weeks, with 400 cases reported last week, up from 371 cases in the week before that, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Feb 11). 

Another 63 cases were reported between Sunday and 3pm on Monday, said NEA in a notice uploaded on their website. As of Monday, there were 114 active dengue clusters, with large clusters located at Begonia Drive, Gangsa Road, Jalan Kembangan, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 and Jurong West Street 91. 

The number of weekly cases had been rising between mid-December to mid-January, peaking at 404 cases. It dropped to 309 the week of Jan 19, and has been increasing since. 

According to NEA, the increase in circulation of the dengue-3 serotype, the high Aedes aegypti mosquito population, and the current high number of dengue cases could cause the number of reported cases weekly to rise above current levels in 2020. 

In a news release in January, the agency had said that it detected the dengue-3 serotype in more clusters across the island, including at the large clusters of Jalan Bangau near Yio Chu Kang, Cashew Road in Bukit Panjang and Jaland Paras in Chai Chee. 

Since 2016, dengue-2 has been the predominant serotype in Singapore. 

“As Singapore has not seen a dengue-3 outbreak in the last three decades, the population immunity for dengue-3 is low and therefore more susceptible to transmission of the virus,” NEA had said in January. 

In December, a new S$5 million mosquito production facility opened to support the environment agency’s goal of expanding Project Wolbachia field trials. 

Project Wolbachia involves infecting male aedes aegypti mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria, so that when it mates with a female, the eggs will not hatch. Male Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes also do not bite.

Project Wolbachia entered its fourth phase in November 2019, expanding trials to 284 residential blocks at Tampines West and Nee Soon East. 

The third phase had previously covered 144 residential blocks in the same areas and achieved a 90 per cent suppression rate.

This comes after the surge of dengue cases in 2019, with close to 15,000 cases and 20 reported deaths. 

“Concerted community action and sustained mosquito control efforts are thus needed, to prevent further escalation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito population, and an increase in the number of people becoming ill with dengue,” said the environment agency in its Feb 11 notice, urging Singaporeans to be vigilant in removing stagnant water from their surroundings, breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. 

Source: CNA/hw

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