Be­ware dengue fever is on rise

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Take care to avoid mos­quito bites if you are trav­el­ling to the Pa­cific Is­lands – there are dengue fever out­breaks.

More than 1000 cases of dengue fever have been con­firmed in Fiji since Oc­to­ber last year, with 11 deaths. There have been 35 cases re­ported in Auck­land this year, 24 of which have come from Fiji.

It has also emerged in French Poly­ne­sia, Van­u­atu and New Cale­do­nia.

A sim­i­lar virus, Zika is wide­spread in French Poly­ne­sia, with cases in New Cale­do­nia and the Cook Is­lands, and the virus chikun­gunya has caused an out­break in Pa­pua New Guinea.

There is no vac­cine for dengue, Zika or chikun­gunya fevers. The only way to pre­vent in­fec­tion is to avoid be­ing bit­ten by mos­qui­toes. Symp­toms be­gin with a high fever and se­vere headache, and nau­sea, vom­it­ing and joint and mus­cle pain are also com­mon.

The ill­ness can last up to 10 days but people can feel tired and de­pressed for weeks af­ter­wards.

Dengue fever can be a se­vere dis­ease, med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Dr Si­mon Baker says.

‘‘Those who travel to the Pa­cific fre­quently are at risk of re­peat in­fec­tions with dif­fer­ent strains of the dengue virus. This can lead to dengue haem­or­rhagic fever which can be fa­tal. This is height­ened by the fact that, for the first time in 20 years, the dengue three strain is ac­tive in the re­gion.’’

New Zealand mos­qui­toes do not carry dengue virus and it is not spread from per­son to per­son.

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