30 mozzie sites destroyed, 500 premises checked in Zika battle

NEA officers and contractors preparing to carry out misting and inspection operations in Watten Estate yesterday morning. Dr Khor said both Zika and dengue viruses are spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and residents must remain vigilant. (Below) A
NEA officers and contractors preparing to carry out misting and inspection operations in Watten Estate yesterday morning. Dr Khor said both Zika and dengue viruses are spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and residents must remain vigilant.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
NEA officers and contractors preparing to carry out misting and inspection operations in Watten Estate yesterday morning. Dr Khor said both Zika and dengue viruses are spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and residents must remain vigilant. (Below) A
An NEA officer checking a drain in the estate.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Amy Khor urges area's residents to cooperate with NEA; those not at home can make appointment for inspection

More than 30 mosquito-breeding sites have been destroyed and 500 premises inspected in the area where Singapore's first case of the Zika virus was recorded.

A 48-year-old man who lives in Watten Estate in Bukit Timah had tested positive for the virus after returning from a business trip to Sao Paulo in Brazil, it was revealed last Friday.

Giving an update on control efforts yesterday, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, as well as for Health, said the man has since been transferred to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and is recovering well.

 
 

She added that the patient, a Singapore permanent resident, will remain in isolation until he has been diagnosed as free from the virus.

"The idea is really to prevent him from getting mosquito bites, and mitigating local transmission," said Dr Khor.

Professor Tikki Pang, visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, who researches global health matters, said that while there is probably every likelihood that the virus will be established here, it is unlikely that Singapore will experience an outbreak on the same scale as Brazil and other Latin American countries.

The authorities have stepped up vector control efforts in Watten Estate and the surrounding areas.

Noting that most of the breeding sites were found in homes, Dr Khor urged residents to cooperate with National Environment Agency (NEA) officers, to let them in to carry out inspections and misting to eliminate all adult mosquitoes and breeding areas.

She urged those not at home when NEA officers call to make an inspection appointment. If home owners fail to respond, NEA officials may have to enter by force.

Symptoms of the Zika virus are similar to dengue, but milder. They include fever, rashes, and joint and muscle aches. However preliminary research has led the World Health Organisation to conclude that it can cause microcephaly - or abnormally small heads - in unborn children if mothers are infected.

It also causes Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare condition in which a person's immune system attacks the nerves.

Both Zika and dengue viruses are spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and residents must remain vigilant, Dr Khor said.

Those who experience symptoms such as rashes after returning from Zika-affected countries should see a doctor so that the NEA and the Ministry of Health can take precautionary measures to prevent local transmission.

Zika outbreaks have been occurring in more than 30 countries, including Brazil and Mexico.

Professor Tikki Pang, visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, who researches global health matters, said that while there is probably every likelihood that the virus will be established here, it is unlikely that Singapore will experience an outbreak on the same scale as Brazil and other Latin American countries.

"Singapore is already on high alert, the urban settings are different and intensive vector control measures are already taking place," said Prof Pang.

"Singaporeans should not be unduly worried and alarmed as the disease is fairly mild and self-limiting, though the population, especially pregnant women, should try to take every precaution from getting bitten by mosquitoes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline '30 mozzie sites destroyed, 500 premises checked in Zika battle'. Print Edition | Subscribe