First case of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection reported in Singapore: MOH, NEA
SINGAPORE: A 47-year-old Malaysian woman living at Block 102 Aljunied Crescent is Singapore's first reported case of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection, the Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency said on Saturday (Aug 27).
As she had not travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, she was likely to have been infected in Singapore, MOH and NEA said in a joint news release.
According to MOH and NEA, the patient had developed symptoms such as fever, rash and conjunctivitis from Thursday. She visited a general practitioner on Friday and was referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC), where she tested positive for the Zika virus on Saturday.
“She has since been hospitalised for observation at the CDC. The patient is currently well and recovering,” the news release said.
The Health Ministry is screening the patient’s close contacts, including household members, the release stated, adding that it is also carrying out Zika testing on others living and working in the area, who have symptoms of fever and rash.
“At this point, three other suspect cases – two in a family who live in the area and an individual who works in the area – had preliminarily tested positive based on their urine samples. They are pending further confirmation tests,” the release stated.
The release said MOH has alerted all GPs around the patient’s home and workplace to be extra vigilant and to immediately report patients with symptoms associated with Zika virus infection to MOH. As an added precaution, all suspect Zika cases will be isolated while awaiting confirmation of the blood test results, the release added.
“MOH and NEA will also actively alert residents in the vicinity to seek medical attention should they develop symptoms,” the release said.
This comes after Singapore reported its first imported Zika case on May 13. The patient, a 48-year-old man, had travelled to Brazil from Mar 27 to May 7.
“With the presence of Zika in our region and the volume of travel by Singaporeans as well as tourists, it is inevitable that there will be imported cases of Zika into Singapore. There is also risk of subsequent local transmission, as the Aedes mosquito vector is present here. While MOH and NEA have stepped up precautionary measures, we expect that there may be further cases, as most infected persons may display mild or no symptoms,” the release added.
Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said: “MOH and NEA are working together to carry out vector control and testing of residents in that area with fever and rashes so as to reduce the risk of further spread. I encourage those who are unwell and with these symptoms to visit their doctors for medical attention. We have also alerted our clinics in the area to look out for suspect cases and refer them to the CDC for testing."
INTENSIFIED VECTOR CONTROL OPERATIONS IN VICINITY OF ALJUNIED CRESCENT
The release also said NEA has intensified vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in the vicinity of Aljunied Crescent by deploying about 100 officers to inspect the area.
1) Inspecting all premises, ground and congregation areas
2) Conducting mandatory treatment such as ultra-low volume (ULV) misting of premises and thermal fogging of outdoor areas to kill adult mosquitoes
3) Increasing frequency of drain flushing and oiling to prevent breeding
4) Public education outreach and distribution of insect repellents
When Channel NewsAsia visited Aljunied Crescent on Saturday evening, NEA flyers were seen on lift landings, informing residents of the symptoms and dangers of the Zika virus. There were also flyers stating fogging would be carried out on Sunday, due to dengue cases in the area.
“NEA is also conducting outreach efforts and distributing Zika information leaflets and insect repellents to residents living in the area,” the release said.
Additionally, the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force will be activated to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading further.
The release also noted that the patient’s residence at Aljunied Crescent is not located in an active dengue cluster, but there are two active dengue clusters nearby, each with two cases. It added that as the majority of people infected with the virus do not show symptoms, it is possible that some transmission may already have taken place before this case of Zika was notified.
“Hence, even as NEA conducts operations to contain the transmission of the Zika virus, residents are urged to cooperate fully with NEA and allow its officers to inspect their premises for mosquito breeding and to spray insecticide to kill any mosquitoes. NEA may need to gain entry into inaccessible premises by force after serving of requisite Notices, to ensure any breeding habitats are destroyed quickly,” the release said.
Authorities also urged members of the public to take immediate steps to prevent mosquito breedings in homes by doing the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout every alternate day, and protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying insect repellant regularly.
“Zika is generally a mild disease. It may cause a viral fever similar to dengue or chikungunya, with fever, skin rashes, body aches, and headache. But many people infected with the Zika virus infection do not even develop symptoms,” the release stated.
“Zika virus infection can however cause microcephaly in the unborn foetuses of pregnant women. We advise residents, especially pregnant women, in the Aljunied Crescent area to monitor their health. They should seek medical attention if they are unwell, especially with symptoms such as fever and rash. They should also inform their doctors of the location of their residence and workplace. Those without these symptoms but who are concerned that they have been infected with the Zika virus should consult and follow the advice of their doctors regarding the monitoring of their pregnancy,” the release added.
Members of the public should refer to MOH’s webpage on Zika for the latest health advisory, authorities added.