Sims Place is hot spot for Zika and dengue

Workers wash the drains by the road along Sims Place. PHOTO: ST FILE

Sims Place has the dubious honour of being the only estate in Singapore - so far - that is hosting both dengue and Zika hot spots.

However, an analysis of NEA information shows that there are two other areas where the clusters are near each other.

Sims Place is a dengue cluster and also part of the larger Aljunied Zika cluster. Other areas such as Bedok North Street 3 and Bishan Street 12 have also reported both Zika cases and dengue cases, albeit in different blocks.

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), there are currently more than 60 active dengue clusters considered "high risk" - having seen reported cases of dengue within the last two weeks.

In its latest update yesterday, the Ministry of Health identified Elite Terrace area in Siglap as a new potential Zika cluster.

There are currently four Zika clusters in Singapore following the first confirmation of locally transmitted Zika infection on Aug 27. (see map)

Based on latest figures as of yesterday, NEA's website said that the total number of dengue cases currently stands at 11,401. This has exceeded the total number of 11,286 cases recorded last year.

Both the Zika and dengue viruses are transmitted by the same vector or the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The mosquito-borne diseases also present similar symptoms such as fever and joint pain.

Professor Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at the Duke- NUS Medical School, said that it is unlikely that a mosquito will be able to spread both Zika and dengue viruses at the same time.

Once the insect is infected with one virus, it triggers an immune response in its body which prevents it from being easily infected with another.

Even though the eastern part of Singapore has all along had a higher number of dengue cases, and now hosts Zika cases, the reason for this is not known, he said.

"Dengue and Zika will always appear where the mosquitoes are," said Prof Ooi.

"With less travel, dengue and Zika are less likely to be introduced."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline Sims Place is hot spot for Zika and dengue. Subscribe