Singapore students contract chikungunya in Ratchaburi

Singapore students contract chikungunya in Ratchaburi

All return to Singapore

Aedes mosquitoes resting on a finger. (TODAY photo)
Aedes mosquitoes resting on a finger. (TODAY photo)

SINGAPORE: All nine School of the Arts (Sota) students and one teacher who contracted chikungunya fever while on a community service learning trip to a Thai village in Ratchaburi had returned to Singapore by Monday night, school principal Mary Seah said.

Earlier, six of the students had to stay behind in Bangkok as they were hospitalised at Bangkok Christian Hospital, while the others flew home, TODAY reported.

In the statement issued on Tuesday, Seah said that two other students who developed chikungunya symptoms after they returned to Singapore are “recovering well”.

The Ministry of Health said in a separate statement that one of those students had to be warded.

The affected group was part of 25 students — aged 15 to 17 — and three teachers who went on the service learning trip to Ratchaburi, scheduled from May 25 to June 4. The trip had to be cut short due to the incident, which initially saw 13 students falling ill.

Seah clarified on Tuesday that out of the students who fell ill on the trip, nine students — along with a teacher — were diagnosed with the chikungunya virus.

Chikungunya fever is an infectious disease that is transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads the Zika and dengue viruses — the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Its symptoms could include a sudden onset of fever, prolonged joint and muscle pains, joint swelling, fatigue and rash, among others. The condition is not as life-threatening as dengue. The ministry said that most patients recover fully, but the joint pain may persist for “several weeks to years in some cases”.

As a precautionary measure, Seah said that the school had also informed the affected students and teachers to monitor their temperatures for 12 days — the maximum incubation period for the chikungunya virus — from the day of their departure from Thailand, as advised by the ministry.

They were also told to seek medical treatment if they are unwell, and take precautions against mosquito bites, she said. Sota will continue to work with parents to closely monitor the affected students’ well-being in the meantime, she added.

The ministry said that as of Monday, a total of 11 chikungunya cases were reported since the start of this year.

Ten of the cases were imported, while one was a local case. In comparison, between 2016 and 2018, two to three local cases were reported each year.

The ministry said that there are no recent reports of active transmission of chikungunya fever. However, Singaporeans should remain vigilant at all times and continue to do their part to prevent mosquito breeding in homes and workplaces, it added.

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