Beware dengue fever is on rise
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.