Singapore has spotted its first Zika cluster of 2017, after two cases of locally transmitted Zika infections were reported at Simon Place, near Kovan in Hougang, announced the National Environment Agency (NEA).

A cluster is only spotted when a minimum of two cases are reported within 14 days and are situated within 150m of one another. According to the NEA, both reported cases are residents within the same vicinity and are from the same household.

However, the Health Ministry has declined to reveal any personal details of the two individuals.

NEA: Vector control operations ongoing

The NEA has begun vector control operations as well as outreach activities in Simon Place, including indoor spraying of insecticides, as well as outdoor thermal fogging and misting.

“As of Mar 29, NEA has inspected about 120 premises out of about 400 premises in the Simon Place cluster to check for mosquito breeding and also conducted ground checks in the vicinity," the agency announced. "Ten breeding habitats - comprising seven in homes and three in common areas/other premises - have been detected and destroyed."

The new Zika cluster is spotted in Simon Place. Photo credit: NEA
The new Zika cluster is spotted in Simon Place. Photo credit: NEA

The agency has asked residents to allow NEA officers to conduct inspections as well as indoor spraying of their homes, and is urging the public to be vigilant in preventing mosquito breeding.

"I thank NEA for its concerted work and urge residents to cooperate fully and to exercise personal vigilance,” said Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim.

Still no known vaccine against Zika

Although this is the first cluster reported in 2017, there have been six other isolated cases reported since January. The first case of locally transmitted Zika infection in the country was reported on 27 August 2016, and a total of 17 expectant mothers were confirmed to have contracted Zika as of 17 December 2016.

To date, there is no known preventive treatment against Zika despite various efforts to develop a vaccine.

Hence, members of the public are advised to seek medical attention should they feel unwell and display symptoms of Zika infection such as fever and rash.

"Most people infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms, which heightens the risk of a Zika resurgence as it may take some time before a reintroduced Zika virus is detected. With the presence of the Aedes mosquito vector here, everyone must therefore continue to maintain vigilance and play his part to prevent future localised transmission through eradicating mosquito breeding habitats in our neighbourhoods," said the agency. MIMS

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