Dengue cases were down in Singapore last year but chikungunya infections were up. Last month more chikungunya cases were reported. This was confirmed by the Ministry of Health which included chikungunya fever in its weekly infectious disease bulletin.
It is feared that chikungunya will soon become endemic in Singapore:
“The appearance of locally transmitted chikungunya infections in Singapore this year also worries infectious diseases experts.
“Although no one has died of the infection, chikungunya, unlike dengue, can be very debilitating. There is also the risk that it could become endemic, which means the disease would be here to stay, with no chance of wiping it out.”
The Gigamole Diaries is not bothered if chikungunya will become endemic in the country:
“Given the similarity in vectors and transmissability between dengue and chikungunya, I don't think there is any doubt chikungunya will establish itself firmly within the community, as it has in many other parts of Asia, and it will only be a matter of time before it will be declared to be endemic in Singapore.
“Does it bother me? Not really, because it is a relatively mild disease compared dengue. If we can control the mosquito population in Singapore, we should be able to control both fairly well.”
Singapore Expat was admitted to a hospital because of chikungunya fever:
“With a great deal of hobbling, we got to the local A&E where I was admitted immediately with a suspected mosquito transmitted viral disease; either Dengue or Chikungunya. Not that either one is really better than the other, but I am still glad it was Chikungunya as at least I am now immune of one of them. The fever went lasted only 3-4 days, but the swollen joints and rash remained for a few days more, and I may be hobbling around for a week or two more until the joints go back to normal.”
Chikungunya cases were reported too in Malaysia. Chikungunya is endemic in Southeast Asia. The World Health Organization reports:
“In recent years, countries in the South-East Asia Region have been severely affected by the outbreaks of chikungunya fever…Chikungunya has established endemicity in several parts of South-East Asia Region. The socio-economic factors and public health inadequacies that facilitated the spread of this infection continue to exist. There is an urgent need to strengthen national surveillance and response capacity through multisectoral approach and active participation of the communities to prevent and contain this emerging infectious disease.”
Picture on front page taken from the Flickr page of James Jordan
As a scientist in the field of vector control for the past three decades in India, I have few valuable comments towards control of dengue and chikungunya and given below:
1. People are suffering either dengue or chikungunya due to increase in vectors of Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus throughout the year.
2. Efforts on vector control through source reduction measures need to be adopted by people above ten years old.
3. People must learn and practice in every house or working place without fail to bringdown the Aedes population tremendously.
4. Practical hand in hand training must be applied which focussed by Thiruppathi Mariappan “Dengue transmission” in Environmental Health Perspectives 117:2, A56 February 2009.
5. Aedes control becomes “Everybody’s job” due to close association of Aedes with human habitation. Government agencies could able to concentrate on vectors of natural breeding habitats only.
6. As we know, vaccines are not available for these diseases, we have to pledge to contribute to control Aedes to very minimum level.
7. The major hurdles in tackling these vectors are dormant eggs survive for more than 6-8 months, feeds on multible human hosts, day time blood sucking habits mosquitoes infect many persons in a given time, oviposit more than one or two habitats within 100 or 150 square meter areas etc.,
8. Let us be alert to avoid the spread of both dengue and chikungynya in the entire globe.
Suggestions are welcome,
with kind regards,
Dr. T. Mariappan,
Scientist, VCRC (ICMR),
Former Advisor of Dengue crisis management and mosquito control Programme of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,