The Straits Times Wednesday, April 6 2016
Reported by Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent
With the unseasonably hot weather giving a boost to mosquito growth, and a change in the predominant dengue viral strain, the authorities are warning that there could be a major epidemic of dengue this year.
So far, 6,400 people have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne viral infection – three times the number seen at this time last year. If numbers continue, there could be 30,000 people infected this year, with many needing hospitalisation.
The authorities said eradication of mosquito breeding sites remains the number one weapon against the disease. Most found by inspectors have been inside homes, in pails, flower pot plates and trays.
A $200 fine was introduced on March 14 for anyone found to have mosquitoes breeding in their homes, not just in active dengue clusters.
Mosquitoes mature faster in hot weather, and the current unseasonably hot spell is likely to see an increase in the population of the Aedes mosquito, which spreads dengue.
There are four strains of dengue virus. Someone who has been infected is generally immune against a second infection of the same strain but is not protected against the other three.
A study here two years ago found that less than 15 percent of people aged 16 to 25 were immune to Den-2, the current dominant strain.
A surge in dengue cases will also put a strain on public hospitals. The MOH said that generally, one in five people diagnosed with dengue requires hospital care.
If the infection rate hits 30,000 this year, it would mean 6,000 people requiring hospital treatment.
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