The dengue “emergency” in Singapore is a sign of climate change for the world

The Southeast Asian city-state has already surpassed 11,000 cases – far more than 5,258 in 2021 – and that peak season was before June 1, which traditionally began.

Experts warn that this tropical climate is a dangerous indicator not only for Singapore, which is a natural breeding ground for the virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes, but for the whole world. This is because global climate change means that such epidemics may become more widespread in the coming years.

“[Cases] Of course, it’s growing faster, “said Singapore’s Interior Minister Desmond Tan, on the verge of a neighborhood inspection for mosquitoes. “This is an urgent emergency that we need to address now.”

Experts say the epidemic in Singapore has been exacerbated by recent extreme weather, and the problem could be a harbinger of what will happen elsewhere, as many countries experience prolonged hot weather and thunderstorms that have helped spread both mosquitoes and the virus. carry.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in January 2022 that the number of dengue cases had increased “30-fold in the last 50 years” and that the disease was now endemic in more than 100 countries.

“As the disease spreads to new areas, not only is the number of patients increasing, but explosive outbreaks are occurring.”

In 2019, according to the WHO, a record 5.2 million cases of dengue were registered in the world, and that year the epidemic in Asia killed thousands of people. Hundreds and millions more were at risk in the Philippines as the country declared a national dengue epidemic; Hospitals are overcrowded in Bangladesh; This is the first case in Afghanistan.
The worst dengue disease in Singapore’s history came the following year, with 35,315 cases and 28 deaths.

In Singapore, where dengue has been endemic for decades, only dengue deaths have been reported this year, but authorities are not taking any risks as the number of cases increases.

“As of May 28, 2022, 11,670 cases have been registered this year. [with] About 10% of hospitalizations require hospitalization, ”a spokesman for Singapore’s Ministry of Health told CNN.

Dengue admissions in the hospital’s emergency departments have increased due to recent growth, the spokesman said, but “to the extent that management is possible”.

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But with the high season just beginning, medical experts and doctors like Clarence Yeo Se Keen say they have a chance to set a record for the number of cases this year.

“Dengue is a seasonal illness and once it’s hot and dry, I usually start seeing a lot of patients come,” he said.

Yeo, who runs a clinic in central Singapore, is seeing a “sharp increase” in the number of people with dengue.

“Dengue may be endemic, but it is not a simple disease to treat,” Yeo added.

A ministry spokesman said most cases of dengue do not require hospitalization or intensive care, “but some people may develop severe dengue disease, which can be fatal.”

“We urge the medical community to properly manage dengue cases and maintain a high level of clinical suspicion when seeing patients with fever.”

The days are hot and the nights are warm

According to Ruclanti de Alvis, a senior researcher at Duke-NUS Medical School and an emerging infectious disease expert, dengue fever in Singapore is the result of many factors, including recent warm, humid weather and new strains of the virus.

However, he said that climate change could worsen the situation. “Previous routine modeling studies have shown that global warming due to climate change is gradually expanding geographic areas (where mosquitoes thrive) as well as the duration of dengue-affected periods,” Alvis said.

Singapore’s meteorological service says Southeast Asia is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world. If carbon emissions continue to rise, the maximum daily temperature could reach 37 degrees Celsius by 2100, its meteorologists have warned.

In May, temperatures reached a record high of 36.7 degrees Celsius.

According to Koh Tie Yong, a meteorologist at the University of Social Sciences in Singapore, rising temperatures are becoming the norm.

“The last decade has been very warm. We are now experiencing 12 warmer days and 12 warmer nights than we did 50 years ago.”

Koch said Southeast Asia should be “more concerned about climate change,” but he said “it is impossible to scientifically determine the link between local heavy rains and climate change.”

Stormy clouds in the western part of Singapore.

According to other experts, dengue fever is likely to occur in Singapore, given the trend of annual rainfall due to prolonged hot weather and sudden heavy monsoons.

“We can’t eradicate dengue (because) sustainable weather is the best environment for mosquitoes,” said Winston Chow, a climatologist at the College of Integrative Research at the University of Management in Singapore.

Chow, who has twice had dengue fever Saddened by the scale of the problem. “In terms of adaptation, Singapore has an excellent health infrastructure and countless policies to reduce risks, but it has a lot to do,” he said.

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Despite spending tens of millions of dollars each year to try to fog mosquito populations across the island, public awareness campaigns and even new experiments using laboratory-grown mosquitoes, Singaporean government agencies continue to report an increase in dengue infections and mosquitoes. clusters.

“Singapore is currently facing a serious dengue situation,” the National Environmental Protection Agency told CNN as a major contributor to the growth of “recent warm, rainy and humid weather.”

Dengue cases are rising sharply and will remain high in the coming months, the agency added.

Although the state agency has managed to eradicate large areas of clusters and make significant efforts to control mosquito populations, it is still witnessing “mosquito proliferation” in many areas. “Early detection and eradication of mosquito-infested areas is critical to reducing the mosquito-spreading population,” the agency said. “We urge all residents to be vigilant and thoroughly inspect their homes for water stagnation at least once a week.”

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As climate change worsens and the planet gets hotter, mosquitoes such as Zika, chikungunya, and dengue continue to spread and have an increasingly significant impact on human health and well-being.

An important question now, experts say, is whether politicians and politicians who need to make changes to slow climate change and prepare for its consequences will see the impact of mosquito-borne diseases on human health and well-being? an act

“Changes in environmental conditions are increasing the number of mosquitoes, so unless the climate improves, the risk of dengue fever will be completely eliminated,” said Chow, a climatologist.

“And this will be a painful war for Singapore in the long run.”

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