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Zika Outbreak in Singapore?: The Cases For and Against

We know the dangers of Dengue in our city, so how well are we equipped against the Zika virus when it is also transmitted by mosquitoes?

Posted on Feb 05, 2016 by Travis Jones

The Zika virus, which has recently been declared a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization, has already resulted in birth defects in thousands of newborns in Brazil, and threatens to do the same in other nations all around the world. The virus has been found in various parts of South America, Mexico, the United States, Australia, Ireland and more.

Even scarier is that the disease is now being spread through multiple means. Once thought to only be spread by Aedes mosquitoes that are extremely common in Brazil, the rest of the Americas that have the appropriate climate for them, and Singapore, Zika is now believed to have been spread in multiple instances as a sexually transmitted disease. This means that multiple levels of protection need to be in place in order to put an end to this epidemic.

Is Singapore ready, though? Here, we explore the arguments for and against there being a Zika virus epidemic in Singapore in the relatively near future.

Yes, there WILL be an outbreak

  • Aedes mosquitoes are very prevalent in Singapore. In fact, the city-state’s wet, tropical climate is ideal for the breeding of these disease spreading pests. It doesn’t take long for these mosquitoes to breed if there is an adequate environment around (which usually means open, standing water). Within about a week an egg can hatch and turn into an adult capable of breeding again.  Needless to say, there are many places around Singapore that are havens for mosquito breeding.

  • Outbreaks of mosquito born disease are not uncommon in Singapore. All one has to do is look at the similarly spread Dengue fever and its prevalence in Singapore and some frightening parallels can be drawn. Much like Zika, Dengue has no known cure. Being carried by those same Aedes mosquitoes, Dengue can infect thousands of people a month in Singapore.

  • According to the Ministry of Health, through the first four weeks of 2016, there were already 2433 cases of Dengue reported in Singapore, which is up from 980 cases during the same time period in 2015. This shows that mosquitoes in Singapore and already primed and thriving in 2016.

  • Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has stated that it may be “challenging” to stop the disease from proliferating across Singapore. He also highlighted the fact that the nature of Zika’s symptoms will make surveillance of the disease “difficult”, as they are generally not pronounced.

  • The National Environment Agency (NEA) and Health Ministry have stated that it is “inevitable that there will be imported cases of Zika into Singapore in time to come.”

No, there will NOT be an outbreak

  • There has yet to be an officially reported case of Zika in Singapore.

  • The head of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology’s infectious disease department at Tan Tock Sen Hospital believes that, while 2016 will be a bad year for Dengue, it is unlikely that a major outbreak of Zika occurs.

  • The Singaporean population is already well versed in dealing with mosquito-borne illness, and should be well prepared to prevent the spread of infection should a scare arise.

  • The Singapore government is already taking steps to educate travelers on how to prevent Zika infection, including putting up posters at airports advising on how best to protect from mosquitoes while abroad, and encouraging travelers to Singapore to seek medical attention immediately should they develop any Zika symptoms.

  • The NEA is on standby to increase their intensive vector control operations should a case of Zika virus infection be detected. Likewise, they will team up with the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force to execute search and destroy missions in order to manage mosquito populations.

  • Doctors in Singapore are being educated on Zika infection so that they can be diligent in rooting out suspected Zika infections.

  • Should a person infected with the Zika virus be detected, standard protocol will be that people who have been in close proximity to them will also be tested for the disease.

Are you safe?

Believe what you will, but at the present time the Zika virus situation is too volatile and fluid to be able to be certain of its outcome in Singapore, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The best advice that people can take at this point is to educate themselves about the disease and how it’s transmitted, take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes, and take the proper precautions when engaging in sexual activity.

Of course, should the unthinkable happen and you or your unborn child contract Zika virus, you will want to have a comprehensive medical insurance plan in place to address the costs and prevent financial hardship. If you do not have such a health insurance plan in place, or you have questions about whether or not your existing plan provides benefits towards treatment related to Zika virus or any other disease, you can contact the helpful insurance agents at Pacific Prime Singapore. Not only will they answer all of your questions, but they can also provide insurance plan comparisons and free price quotes from major insurance companies in Singapore. Contact them today! 

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