Dengue spike this year if mosquito growth unthwarted
After a recent upswing in cases, National Environment Agency has issued a serious warning
After a resurgence in dengue cases over the past three weeks, Singapore could see a spike in infections this year if the current Aedes mosquito population is left unchecked, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has warned.
More cases of a less common strain of the virus have also been detected in more clusters islandwide, and this could lead to even more dengue cases due to low population immunity.
Last year saw the worst dengue outbreak here in five years with almost 16,000 cases. This is about five times more than in 2018 and is the highest since 2014, when there were more than 18,000 cases.
There were 20 dengue deaths last year, the highest in a decade.
The NEA said yesterday that last year's surge could be attributed to a high Aedes population in the community, warmer weather and low population immunity.
Weekly dengue infections decreased in the latter half of last year after hitting a high of 664 cases in mid-July. But after five weeks of decline between mid-November and December, the numbers have risen again, with 306 reported cases in the first week of this year and 345 cases in the second week.
The NEA said the high Aedes population is a key concern and may increase with warmer temperatures.
A large proportion of Singaporeans continue to be susceptible to dengue given the low population immunity and successful vector control over the years.
This is even more so for the DENV-3 strain of the virus, as Singapore has not seen an outbreak of this less common serotype in the last three decades.
NEA said it has seen an increase in DENV-3 cases and clusters over the past month.
"It is thus critical that all residents and stakeholders work closely together with NEA to break the dengue transmission in these clusters and curtail the spread of the virus," it added.
There are four strains of the dengue virus and the DENV-2 serotype has been dominant since 2016. Once a person has been infected by one strain, he is protected against it, but not the other three.
There were 107 active dengue clusters as of Tuesday, with four of the five largest ones located in the north-east and east regions.
The NEA said it found mosquito breeding in homes in the large clusters despite months of alerts and intensive source reduction. In some of them, like in Bukit Mugliston and Begonia Drive - both in the Seletar area- the NEA detected breeding multiple times in the same homes.
The NEA urged the public to prevent mosquito breeding by removing stagnant water. Those going overseas are advised to mosquito-proof their homes.