Number of dengue cases surpasses last year's total

PHOTO: Number of dengue cases surpasses last year's total

SINGAPORE - The number of dengue cases recorded so far this year has already exceeded the total for the whole of last year.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Saturday that this year, there have been 4,756 cases between Jan 1 and last Friday.

This is higher than the 4,632 cases in all of last year.

A leading dengue expert here had said in a previous report in The Sunday Times that Singapore is heading for its worst dengue epidemic.

Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, who is the clinical director at the Communicable Disease Centre, had said: "It will be huge. The question is, how huge?"

Experts have warned that the numbers could continue to rise as the warmer months of May to August - the typical peak season for dengue - approach. This is when both the virus and mosquito replicate about twice as fast.

Singapore's worst brush with dengue was in 2005, when 14,000 people fell ill and 25 died.

The NEA has said that up until April 14, it received more than 2,000 e-mail messages and calls about potential breeding grounds. In recent weeks, numbers were up 150 per cent from last year's average.

NEA director-general of public health Derek Ho said: "Community efforts are key to break the dengue transmission cycle, and we encourage all residents to play a part in stopping dengue."

He added: "This is very important because we need everyone to take the active steps in removing mosquito breeding in their homes so that we can fight dengue effectively." NEA now has 850 officers conducting dengue inspections.

It said expenditure on dengue control this year will exceed last year's $72 million.

Meanwhile, more than 460 grassroots leaders, volunteers and Health Promotion Board ambassadors attended a training session organised by NEA on Saturday to learn about dengue prevention.

The agency will be conducting more training sessions in the coming weeks.

Interested members of the public may call 1800-CALL-NEA (1800-225-5632) for more information.

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