Dengue cases shoot up by more than 200 in a week

PHOTO: Dengue cases shoot up by more than 200 in a week

SINGAPORE - The number of reported dengue cases rose to 898 in the week ending July 5, up from 674 cases in the previous week.

Alarmingly, the National Environment Agency's (NEA) Gravitrap surveillance system, comprising some 3,000 deployed island-wide, has also shown that the population of adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes has doubled since May 2014.

"We are currently at the peak dengue season and expect the cases to rise further," NEA said.

As of yesterday, the total number of reported cases since the beginning of this year stood at 9,697. Although this is about 23 per cent lower than the same period last year, NEA highlighted that the dengue situation in 2014 started with a high base.

DENV-1, the strain of virus that caused the 2013 epidemic, remains dominant, accounting for almost 90 per cent of infections. A large proportion of the population is still susceptible to dengue infection due to the lack of immunity to DENV-1, NEA cautioned.

The hotter months of June to October are also when Singapore usually sees higher transmission of dengue. This is because of the accelerated breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquitoes and shorter incubation periods of the dengue virus.

"We need to reduce the mosquito population urgently," NEA said in a media release.

"NEA, together with the other Government agencies from the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force, as well as all Town Councils, are continuing to check public areas and housing estates for potential breeding grounds, with officers carrying out daily checks for breeding habitats in these areas.

"We are also eliminating adult mosquitoes through measures such as space spraying and Gravitraps. More than 1.5 million inspections have already been carried out this year. We will focus on areas that have higher potential for dengue transmission, such as construction sites," the agency said.

NEA has been taking stringent action against errant contractors at sites with mosquito breeding, including immediate stop work orders and prosecutions in court.

In 2013, NEA issued a total of 1,200 notices to attend court and 54 stop work orders. This year, 476 notices to attend court and 49 stop work orders have been issued, and 13 contractors have been prosecuted in court for repeat offences.

"NEA will maintain a strict regime and pay particular attention to high risk sites such as those with poor track record, and those located within clusters showing active transmission," NEA said.

"We will impose stricter requirements and where necessary, longer Stop Work Orders, in order to break the transmission of the disease. We will continue to prosecute recalcitrant errant contractors in court and press for deterrent sentences."

NEA reminded members of the public that all Singapore residents need to play their part in removing stagnant water from their environments, so as to deprive the mosquitoes of their breeding habitats.

Some simple precautions to take include inverting pails and plant pot plates, changing water in vases regularly, and capping bamboo pole holders when they are not in use.

Those infected with dengue should protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying repellent regularly, and those showing symptoms suggestive of dengue should seek medical help early to be diagnosed.

"We encourage everyone to be an advocate and remind his family members and neighbours to join in the collective effort to help stop the dengue transmission cycle by doing the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout. All of us, including residents, contractors, and business owners, have a part to play in preventing dengue," NEA said.

The latest updates on the dengue situation can be found at the Stop Dengue Now Facebook page, or the myENV app.