Eighteen test positive for mosquito-borne virus

Wednesday March 04, 2015 Written by Release/CS Published in Health

A total of 18 positive cases of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya have been confirmed in the Cook Islands.

The cases included two travellers returning from French Polynesia and one from Samoa. All confirmed cases involved Rarotonga residents, a Public Health media release said.

Symptoms of chikungunya include fever and joint pains, while many victims also suffer headache, muscle pain, nausea, fatigue and rash. In 60 per cent of the reported cases, sufferers reported fever and joint pains.

Public Health was continuing its risk assessment campaign as well as carrying out aerial spraying to kill adult mosquitoes at the homes of reported victims, the release said. Spraying covered a 200 metre radius around each home.

The mosquitoes which cause the viral disease bite during daylight hours, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

There is no cure for chikungunya and treatment concentrates on relieving the symptoms. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for months or even years.

Prevention and control relies heavily on reducing natural and artificial water habitats that support breeding of the mosquitoes – as well as avoiding mosquito bites. 

Public Health says people suspected of having chikungunya should be protected from further exposure to mosquitoes during the first week of illness to reduce the risk of passing on the virus to others.

“Apply mosquito repellents to exposed skin. Mosquito coils and insecticide vaporizers can also reduce mosquito bites.”

The department also urges travellers to take precautionary measures if travelling within the Pacific region as outbreaks of chikungunya are continuing in American Samoa, Samoa, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Kiribati.

Dengue outbreaks are continuing in French Polynesia, northern Fiji and Tonga but no cases of dengue virus or zika virus have been identified in the Cook Islands. 

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