SINGAPORE — Months after the disease died down here, the Zika virus re-emerged in the Republic on Tuesday (March 28) with a new cluster marked out at Simon Place near Kovan MRT station.
As the National Environment Agency (NEA) urges vigilance with the log of 2017’s first active Zika cluster, here's what you need to know about last year’s outbreak, and how you can protect yourself this period.
First imported Zika case: May 7, 2016, through a man who travelled back to Singapore from Brazil, where the South American country was experiencing a widespread outbreak of the virus.
First locally transmitted Zika case: August 27, 2016, through a woman residing at Block 102 Aljunied Crescent.
Number of cases by 2016’s end: 458. The bulk of the cases were reported in September. By November, the number of new cases tapered to 12. Four cases were reported in December.
Last Zika case before Tuesday: March 21, 2017.
Largest Zika cluster in Singapore: In the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive area. The cluster was closed on Oct 9, 2016 after no new cases were reported there for two weeks.
How is Zika transmitted?: Bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
Why Zika is a concern: Almost no one is immune to the virus, and it spreads rapidly. Pregnant women infected with Zika during their first trimester face as high as a 13 per cent chance that their fetus will develop a severe and rare brain defect called microcephaly, where the baby’s head will turn out smaller than expected, often with incomplete brain development.
Can the Zika virus be sexually transmitted?: Yes. Cases in the US, France, Germany, Italy and New Zealand exist.
Number of pregnant women infected with Zika in Singapore: 17, as of the end of 2016.
Were the pregnant women okay?: As of Dec 31, 2016, four of the women gave birth, and their babies showed no signs of abnormalities. Ten of the cases were in their second and third trimesters, with no obvious evidence to show that there were any Zika-related abnormalities. Two were at early gestation, so authorities were not yet able to determine if there will be Zika-related abnormalities.
How are authorities making sure the pregnant women are okay?: The Ministry of Health will track their infant’s development until they are three years old.
What the new active cluster means: There could be asymptomatic or mild, undiagnosed cases which might result in further transmission of the virus if there are mosquitoes in the vicinity.
Common symptoms: Fever rarely higher than 39 degrees Celsius, an itchy pink rash, bloodshot eyes, sensitivity to light, headaches, and joint pains. But some of the cases may go undiagnosed as the infection may result in mild or even no symptoms.
Precautions: Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home, and use an insect repellent.