Singapore reported 11,670 dengue cases by May 28, a number that is far beyond the 5,258 it reported throughout 2021. The peak dengue season in Singapore traditionally begins on June 1. Experts have said the outbreak in Singapore has been made worse by recent extreme weather.
The rising number in Singapore is a sign that changes in the global climate will increase dengue outbreaks as more countries experience prolonged hot weather spells and thundery showers that help to spread both the mosquitoes and the virus they carry.
Clarence Yeo Sze Kin, who runs a clinic in Singapore, told CNN that more patients tend to come in with dengue when the weather becomes hot and dry.
Ruklanthi de Alwis, a senior research fellow at the Duke-NUS Medical School and an expert in emerging infectious diseases said that the early dengue surge in Singapore is the result of multiple factors like the recent warm, wet weather as well as a new dominant virus strain. She also said climate change is likely to make things worse. "Past predictive modeling studies have shown that global warming due to climate change will eventually expand the geographical areas (in which mosquitoes thrive) as well as the length of dengue transmission seasons," she added.
Winston Chow, a climate scientist from the College of Integrative Studies at Singapore Management University, also told CNN that dengue cannot be completely eradicated because the constant weather extremes create the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a global dengue report in January 2022 said the disease is now endemic in more than 100 countries. It also noted that cases had increased 30 times in the last 50 years. According to the report, 5.2 million cases of dengue were reported in 2019 and outbreaks across Asia that year killed thousands.
The rise in numbers is a sign of concern even as experts expect soaring temperatures to become the norm.
CNN reported that with the planet heating up, mosquito-borne diseases like Zika, chikungunya and dengue will likely continue to spread and have an ever greater impact on human health and well being.
Chow, the climate scientist, said that eliminating the risk of dengue fever will become even more difficult unless the climate emergency improves.