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Is the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus taking root in Singapore?

Virus has made a comeback with 924 cases this year, most locally spread

Published on Dec 4, 2013 8:30 AM
The Aedes albopictus mosquito is the primary vector for chikungunya here. For a while, the dengue-like disease had seemingly been eradicated, but this year's outbreak has put paid to hopes of its demise. -- PHOTO: NEA

The mosquito-borne chikungunya virus appears to have become endemic in Singapore, after it had seemingly been eradicated.

The dengue-like disease took hold in April and there have been 924 cases this year - of which 881 were locally transmitted. Last week, there were 36 new cases.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the bulk of the infections have been in the Sungei Kadut and Bukit Timah/Holland areas, although four of last week's cases were in the Defu Lane and Defu Avenue areas.

An NEA spokesman said: "These areas are in close proximity to lush vegetation where there is an abundance of natural habitats for the Aedes albopictus (mosquito) - the primary vector for chikungunya here."

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We have the vector (mosquito), the virus and susceptible host (non-immune population). As long as these three factors remain, there is a risk of the disease establishing itself here.

- Dr Indumathi Venkatachalam, an infectious disease expert at the National University Hospital