Why Singapore’s dengue emergency is a climate change wake-up call for the world

The city-state has already surpassed more than 11,000 cases — far more than the 5,258 it reported in 2021 — before June 1, when traditionally the peak of the dengue season begins. And climate change will make things worse in the coming years, experts say

Explained: why Singapore's dengue emergency is a climate change wake-up call for the world

Representative Image: ANI

Singapore has said it is facing a dengue emergency.

The city-state has already recorded 11,000 cases of the seasonal disease this year — more than double what it reported in all of 2021 — and that too before June 1, when peak dengue season usually begins.

Secretary of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan, who is also Secretary of State for Home Affairs, said during an inspection: “We are seeing a sharp increase in the number of cases by the week… it is an emergency phase now that we need to address a further increase of the incidence of dengue cases.”

Let’s take a closer look at why this happens and what experts are saying:

Why is this happening?

according to Sproperties TimesSingapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) has attributed the increase in dengue cases in part to a high Aedes aegypti mosquito population, which may be due to the recent warm, rainy and humid weather.

Singapore’s tropical climate is already a natural breeding ground for the Aedes mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

The dengue wave in Singapore is the result of multiple factors, such as recent warm, wet weather and a new dominant virus strain, said Ruklathi de Alwis, a senior research fellow at Duke-NUS Medical School and an expert in emerging infectious diseases. cnn.

And climate change is about to make matters worse.

From CNNexperts say the outbreak in Singapore has been exacerbated by recent extreme weather, and, worse, could be a preview of what’s to come elsewhere as more countries experience prolonged warm weather and thunderstorms.

“Past predictive modeling studies have shown that global warming due to climate change will eventually expand the geographic areas (in which mosquitoes thrive) as well as the length of transmission seasons for dengue,” de Alwis said.

“We won’t be able to eradicate dengue (because) the constant weather extremes create the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes,” said climate scientist Winston Chow of the College of Integrative Studies at Singapore Management University.

Chow, who has contracted dengue twice, lamented the escalating magnitude of the problem. “In terms of adaptation, Singapore has an excellent health care infrastructure and numerous policies to reduce the risks – but there is only so much it can do,” he said, according to cnn.

Dengue is on the rise worldwide

In a January 2022 global dengue report, the WHO warned that the disease is now endemic in more than 100 countries and that the number of cases has increased “30-fold” in the past 50 years.

“Not only is the number of cases increasing as the disease spreads to new areas, but there are also explosive outbreaks,” the report said.

What can residents do?

Singapore’s National Environment Agency has advised residents to break open paved ground, lift and empty flower pot plates, tip over buckets and wipe their edges dry to prevent disease transmission and prevent the reproduction of Aedes mosquitoes.

They also need to change water in vases, keep gutters clean, and put BTI insecticide in them, which is used to kill mosquito larvae.

Those residing in dengue clusters should also spray insecticide in dark corners around their homes and apply insect repellent regularly, the agency added.

The Singapore Ministry of Health has advised people who have symptoms of dengue to see their doctor immediately.

Most cases can be treated effectively by primary care physicians and do not require hospitalization or intensive care, it added.

However, some people can develop severe dengue, which can lead to death, it warned.

Those wishing to receive the dengue vaccine, known as Dengvaxia, should consult their doctor first.

It is approved in Singapore for people between the ages of 12 and 45, but is not suitable for people who have not been previously infected with dengue.

With input from agencies

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