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One dengue case on Raro

Wednesday February 06, 2019 Written by Published in Health
One dengue case on Raro

The Health ministry has confirmed there is at least one case of dengue fever on Rarotonga.

The woman arrived from Tahiti a week ago and she is the first diagnosed dengue case reported in the Cook Islands this year.

Secretary for Health Josephine Herman said authorities were taking precautionary actions to limit the potential spread of the tropical disease. 

“Precautionary public health measures were taken and included a risk assessment and spraying of the periphery of her residence, as well as Rarotonga Hospital while she was admitted,” Herman said.

But, she said there is no outbreak of the virus.

In order for authorities to declare an outbreak there must be at least five confirmed cases of dengue fever.

Herman said the last mosquito-borne disease outbreak was in 2015, and since then the ministry has managed to keep the country free from a dengue outbreak.

Last year there was only one confirmed dengue case - a visitor from overseas.

Tests for dengue fever cost around $450 in New Zealand, meaning testing 1000 people would cost $45,000. 

That would be a huge cost to the country and could affect tourism.

Herman has urged the public to take precautionary measures such as:

-           Keep your yards clean and tidy (cut hedges and grass)

-           Get rid of mosquito breeding sites (empty containers with water), drill holes into tyres or place tyres under shelter.

- Protect yourself from mosquito bites (use of repellent/ mosquito coils/ sleep under mosquito nets).

Some symptoms of dengue are:

- High fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, pain in muscles and joints and other associated symptoms and signs: skin rash with or without itching, loss of appetite and weakness.

-           If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, please seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Herman stated the Vector Control Team (mosquitoes/rodents/pests) that conducts risk assessment, surveillance and monitoring has already been activated.

She said this complements the Tutaka programme which has been increased to four times a year.

She said for awareness, a health protection officer has provided information on radio to raise awareness for the public to remain vigilant and to destroy mosquito breeding sites because of the current heavy rain.

“We would like to remind our

people that the aedes mosquito is present in Rarotonga. This mosquito carries the dengue, zika and chikungunya virus as well as yellow fever virus.”

Herman added that the Ministry of Health is exploring opportunities to eliminate the mosquito.

French Polynesia has decided to import mosquitoes carrying the wolbachia bacteria to help curb the spread of infectious diseases, due to a dengue outbreak.

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