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Zika outbreak: Need for mosquito control and public health education

01 Sep 2016

Mosquito control efforts such as thermal fogging being carried out around Zika-affected areas in Singapore. Photo credit: Lim Yaohui/ The Straits Times 

A strategy which targets minimising and testing for infection in pregnant women, outpatient management of patients and controlling mosquito spread is key in tackling the ongoing Zika outbreak, say Associate Professors Alex Cook and Hsu Li Yang from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.  

In weighing the public health responses, the hospitalisation of those with symptoms may not be cost-effective as asymptomatic Zika-infected people, who form the bulk of Zika infections, can also transmit the virus. Simple isolation of confirmed or suspected cases, as well as for male patients to use protection during sexual intercourse for at least six months may be more effective in minimising the transmission of Zika. 

Vector control efforts are critical, and the National Environment Agency has currently stepped up efforts around Zika-affected areas. The Zika outbreak also strengthens the case for exploring innovative vector control methods, such as releasing modified sterile mosquitoes using the Wolbachia bacterium. 

Because of the disease's mild symptoms, outpatient management by general practitioners and polyclinics must be a routine practice. Singapore may also face the possibility that Zika may become endemic to the country, much like other infectious diseases such as dengue. 

Media Coverage:

  • The Straits Times Opinion, 1 September 2016 

 

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