Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh gets 'bone-breaking fever'

VICTIMS: Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh's 10-month-old daughter had also been in hospital due to dengue fever.

It was not exactly a very merry Christmas or a happy new year for Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Pritam Singh.

He came down with dengue fever for the first time and was hospitalised during the festive period.

"The experience made me understand why dengue fever is also referred to as 'bone-breaking' fever," the Workers' Party MP wrote on his Facebook wall.

As if that was not painful enough, his 10-month-old daughter was hospitalised with dengue fever as well.

"There has been a spike in the number of dengue cases these past few weeks where I live. The NEA (National Environment Agency) has reported a change in the dominant dengue viral strain and an increase in the mosquito population," he wrote.

Dengue cases reached a new high of 554 in the week between Jan 3 and Jan 9. This is 106 cases more than the recent high of 448 reported in the week of Dec 27 to Jan 2.

And with the slightly warmer than usual year-end weather due to the El Niño phenomenon, the National Environment Agency (NEA) warned the number may not be the highest yet.

The high temperatures also shortened the breeding and maturation cycles of the mosquitoes, as well as the incubation periods for the dengue virus.

There were already 50 cases reported on Sunday, and another 71 as of 3.30pm on Monday.

On its website, NEA said the proportion of cases due to the variant switch from DENV-1 to DENV-2 has increased. It now accounts for two-thirds of all cases in Singapore.

The last variant switch, from DENV-2 to DENV-1 in March 2013 resulted in a historic high of 22,170 cases that year.

"This change in the main circulating dengue virus may be an early indicator of a future dengue outbreak, unless measures are taken to suppress the Aedes mosquito population," NEA said.

Four dengue virus variations can cause the disease.

French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur came up with a vaccine, Dengvaxia, that it claimed prevented all four. The company managed to get approval from the governments of Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines by the end of last year.

But in 2014, then-Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament that the dengue vaccine marketed by Sanofi was "not good enough" for Singapore.

He said it was not effective enough against the two most common types of the dengue virus here, types 1 and 2.

The Health Ministry and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) are actively tracking development of this vaccine and have been following up with Sanofi.

juditht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 13, 2016.
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