Disease thrives on messy properties

Thursday July 09, 2015 Written by Published in Health
Disease thrives on messy properties

The messier the place where you live or work, the more likely you are to get Chikungunya, according to a new report from the Ministry of Health.

Health identified the areas of Rarotonga where the most Chikungunya cases were reported, and found that this directly related to the number of messy and vacant properties in those areas.

The Tupapa-Mararenga area recorded the highest number of cases, with 93 people reporting Chikungunya symptoms.

In contrast, the Akaoa area had the least amount of Chikungunya cases, with just 13 being reported.

So far, there have been 741 Chikungunya cases reported this year for the whole of the Cook Islands, but numbers are dropping each week, with only 29 reported last week.

Director of Community Services, Neti Herman says when they tried to find out why Tupapa-Marairenga had such high numbers, they found there was also a high number of vacant and messy properties.

“We found vacant houses, not clean. We found empty sections and properties, also not clean,” Herman says.

“There is evidence now that we need to look at our island again, and that the best thing to do to stop this disease is to keep going with the Tutaka programme to keep our island clean.”

The second-highest number of 68 cases was recorded in the Takuvaine-Tutakimoa area and Herman says this is likely due a drain which served as a “nice breeding site”.

Herman and her team also found that leaky taps were one of the biggest culprits for creating mosquito-breeding sites, and are asking people to fix this problem in their homes.

The findings of this report were presented to Parliament and also to the Te Maeva Nui committee last week.

Herman says these findings are important, because there is about to be a huge influx of visitors from the outer islands and overseas for Te Maeva Nui.

She says they cannot afford an escalation of Chikungunya, or a return of dengue, because it can jeopardise the whole constitution celebrations.

“When you have Chikungunya, you can’t dance because your legs are stiff and sore,” Herman says.

 As well as continuing with the Tutaka programme, Herman is encouraging villages to organise their own community lead clean-ups before Te Maeva Nui to ensure as many breeding sites are eradicated as possible.

“This is not a problem just for health, everyone needs to play a part to keep our people healthy, and our island clean,” Herman says. 

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