It is the first drop in eight weeks; the public is urged to stay vigilant
THE number of dengue patients has fallen below the warning level of 146 cases a week for the first time in eight weeks. In the week which ended last Saturday, 131 cases of the viral illness were reported. And there is now only one major cluster with more than 10 cases – in Pasir Ris Street 11, where 32 people have caught the disease. This is a far cry from just a month ago, when the mosquito-borne illness peaked at 263 new cases a week, and when there were seven major clusters active across the island.
A cluster is formed when two or more people living within 150m of each other fall ill within a fortnight. A cluster is deemed closed when no new case is reported in the area after 14 days. The National Environment Agency (NEA), however, urges the public to remain vigilant as dengue-transmission season lasts until October. An agency spokesman said it will not back down on any of the measures, implemented at the start of the year, to root out and destroy mosquito-breeding sites.
The Ministry of Health, echoing these sentiments, has advised the public to continue taking steps to get rid of stagnant water and so prevent mosquito-breeding in their homes. Dengue is a viral infection spread by the female Aedes mosquito. It is characterised by high fever, muscle and joint pain, rash and mild bleeding; its more severe forms are dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. The disease tends to spread faster in the warmer months, with higher temperatures triggering faster growth of the virus and mosquito larvae. About 3,700 people have been diagnosed with the disease this year; at least three have died, and more than 1,000 have been hospitalised. Comprehensive dengue control measures mean large groups of people have yet to be exposed to the virus and are thus at risk of coming down with it. And because people live in close proximity, it will take only a few mosquitoes with the virus to start a chain of infection, said the NEA.
About 1,000 NEA officers have fanned out to destroy potential mosquito breeding spots; the NEA is also working with grassroots groups and volunteers to educate the public on dengue prevention. Those with body aches and fever are urged to seek medical attention immediately. Those suspected of or confirmed as having dengue should protect themselves against mosquito bites by using insect repellent. This helps to stop the chain of infection.