Multiple channels to alert doctors, public to outbreaks

We thank Mr David Soh for his letter (Why was public not told of typhoid cases?, Aug 20).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) takes the risk of a potential local outbreak of infectious diseases, including typhoid fever, seriously.

MOH monitors infectious disease trends and proactively publishes such information through a Weekly Infectious Disease Bulletin. This is publicly available on the MOH website. The latest bulletin was published on Aug 15 and included the typhoid fever cases.

Where additional or specific precautions by the public are necessary, MOH would inform the public through additional communication channels, including press releases and social media platforms.

Typhoid fever is not spread by casual contact. Like other food-borne diseases, its spread is prevented through general measures, including proper hand hygiene, and safe handling, cooking and consumption of food.

Following the increase in local typhoid fever cases in recent weeks, MOH issued an advisory to doctors on Aug 15 as an added precaution to increase vigilance for cases of typhoid fever and to remind them to notify MOH immediately should they come across such cases.

Active investigations are ongoing to determine the sources of infection and possible common links. MOH has interviewed the recent patients diagnosed with typhoid fever on their food history.

We have also screened the patients' household members and advised them to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms.

Together with the Singapore Food Agency, MOH is also conducting investigations at establishments that the patients have consumed food from, as well as upstream food sources and supply chain providers used by these establishments.

Should a particular food source be identified as the cause of the recent typhoid fever cases, we will issue a public advisory on the specific precautions that members of the public can take.

Vernon Lee

Director

Communicable Diseases Division

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Multiple channels to alert doctors, public to outbreaks'. Print Edition | Subscribe