Singapore is on track to face a “massive outbreak” of dengue in 2023, experts have warned, as a booming mosquito population is spreading a strain previously uncommon in the city-state, Sarah Newey reported for The Telegraph.
Photo Insert: in Singapore, the recent surge has also been pinned on to two other factors: A jump in the mosquitos that transmit the pathogen, and the arrival of an unusual strain.
The disease – known as ‘breakbone fever’ because of the intense joint and muscle pain it can cause – surged across much of the world in 2022, following two years of suppressed transmission linked to COVID restrictions.
In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said earlier this month that total cases last year were almost six times higher than in 2021 – with 32,000 recorded.
But officials warned the trend appears to have seeped into the New Year, with almost twice as many infections reported in the week ending January 9 compared to the same period in 2022.
While cases remain well below the 2022 peak – with around 200-300 a week, compared to 1,568 last summer – experts fear it “may presage a large outbreak to come”, as outbreaks tend to peak in the middle of the year.
“The continued high number of dengue cases at the start of the year increases the risk of an early surge in cases in the coming months, and could lead to another dengue outbreak in Singapore this year,” the agency said.
Climate change and rapid urbanization have fuelled a rise in the disease for decades – it was endemic in just nine countries in the 1970s, but is now common in more than 100 and affects as many as 400 million people a year.
But in Singapore, the recent surge has also been pinned on to two other factors: A jump in the mosquitos that transmit the pathogen, and the arrival of an unusual strain.
“Singapore, which appears on track to break its previous year’s record of the highest number of cases, is reporting a 24% increase in the densities of Aedes aegypti [which spreads dengue],” said Dr. Neelika Malavige, head of the dengue program at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative. “This is worrying.”