Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dengue Type 3 rises in Singapore

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) is concerned that a randomly-occurring type of dengue virus has recently shown up in greater numbers in one area.

Seven cases of Type 3 Dengue infection were detected in Little India in January, up from zero cases in November last year.

NEA said the virus type has "high epidemic potential" because Singaporeans are known to have low immunity to it.

NEA's Head of Environmental Health Institute, Dr Ng Lee Ching, explains: "Dengue 3 is not very common in Singapore for the past decade. So our immunity level in the population is very low towards Dengue 3 - which means if Dengue 3 spreads, the population will be very susceptible to getting dengue.

"We also know that overseas, in America and in Southeast Asia, Dengue 3 has caused huge outbreaks."

NEA said it had immediately deployed officers to Little India to locate and destroy mosquito breeding grounds. And the number of Type 3 infections there dropped back to zero in February.

As a precaution, Head of Operations for the Environmental Health Department at NEA, Tai Ji Choong, said that officers are permanently stationed in the two areas.

He said: "Actually we put in a permanent team of officers and also the pest control operators. Actually they're roving around the area to do source reduction, to remove and destroy breeding habitats and at the same time check difficult areas such as roof gutters for breeding."

NEA said it has also been able to contain the rise in Type 1 Dengue infections reported in Woodlands, Joo Chiat and the Southwest District. The number of cases in these areas rose over the new year but fell last month.

Type 1 and 2 Dengue are the more common strains occurring in Singapore, while Type 4 is rare.

NEA currently has 750 pest control officers fanned out across Singapore to check and destroy mosquito breeding areas. The agency said it plans to hire another 250 officers this year to increase its surveillance.

- 938LIVE

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