‘Dengue-like’ illnesses on the increase

Monday March 30, 2015 Written by Published in Health

Mosquito-borne illnesses are increasing in the Cook Islands, with 18 cases of chikungunya confirmed and 187 cases of a ‘dengue-like illness’ reported in the past three months. 

In a Cook Islands Public Health chikungunya outbreak update, Cook Islands Public Health protection officer Apii Nimerota said that in the first 12 weeks of this year there had been 187 reported cases of people experiencing a dengue-like illness.

From October last year to March 22 this year there were 202 cases of people experiencing chikungunya-like symptoms and lab results processed in Tahiti have confirmed 18 of those cases were in fact chikungunya.

Of those 202 cases, 197 were reported in Rarotonga and five in Aitutaki. 

And it seems no-one is immune to the mosquito’s bite, with victims ranging in age from babies to 84-year-olds. 

A total of 946 cases of dengue-like illnesses were reported in the Cook Islands in 2014, Nimerota said. 

She urged anyone who developed symptoms such as a fever, joint pains, a rash, muscle pains, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, to seek immediate medical advice.

Public Health is continuing to spray properties where people have been affected by chikungunya in an effort to kill adult mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, outbreaks of chikungunya are continuing in Kiribati. Although outbreaks in both Samoa and American Samoa are declining, Cook Islands Public Health is warning to take extra precautions if you plan to travel within the Pacific region. 

In light of the increased risk of infectious diseases and outbreaks in post-cyclone Vanuatu, Nimerota said it should be noted that there is Zika virus circulation in Vanuatu. 

Zika virus, dengue fever and chikungunya are illnesses caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. 

These diseases rarely result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most people who get sick feel better within a week. 

There are several things you can do to reduce the possibility of contracting a mosquito-borne virus:

Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by applying mosquito repellents to exposed skin. People at increased risk for severe disease should consider not travelling to high-risk countries. 

At home, keep overgrown hedges, gardens, and bushes trimmed as these provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Ensure pools of water on your property are dried out as these also encourage mosquitoes to breed.

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