New warning as dengue bites back

Wednesday October 02, 2019 Written by Published in Health
Ministry staff have been spraying the heavy-duty insecticide Deltamethrin and the larvicide VectoBac around the homes of people diagnosed with dengue, right out to a 400 metre radius. 14030402 Ministry staff have been spraying the heavy-duty insecticide Deltamethrin and the larvicide VectoBac around the homes of people diagnosed with dengue, right out to a 400 metre radius. 14030402

Three new cases of dengue were admitted to Rarotonga Hospital last week, after a lull in which public health officials had hoped this year’s outbreak was tapering off.

 

It’s the most new cases in three or four months. There were 5 cases diagnosed in August; 9 cases in September. And in New Zealand, too, authorities reported a traveller from Cook Islands presenting with dengue fever last month.

As summer approaches with the threat of humidity in which dengue-transmitting mosquitoes will breed faster, Cook Islanders are being warned to take renewed care.

Public health director Dr Tereapii Uka said 91 cases had been diagnosed this year; three in Aitutaki and 88 in Rarotonga.

Two of last week’s cases were in Avarua; one in Titikaveka; officials had sprayed intensively around the three patients’ homes, while they were in hospital.

Dr Uka said the symptoms of dengue were similar to a fever, but often combined with pain in the eyes, muscle or back pain, abdominal pain or vomiting. People experiencing some of those symptoms should go to the hospital or Tupapa clinic.

“People in the community, if they find they are not well or they have pain in the eyes, they should see a doctor,” he said.

Dengue would never be eradicated, he said – but with care, the community could reduce its incidence.

And all families and businesses should make sure they clean up puddles or containers of still or stagnant water that provide breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes are here to stay – we’re just trying to minimise it. It is likely to get worse again in summer, especially when it rains.”

He said this year’s outbreak was now “manageable” for the Ministry. “When it first started there was a lot of pressure on the health system, but now it’s manageable,” he said.

Traps set around the hospital and the airport had caught a lot of adult mosquitoes, but in recent times the numbers had started to diminish.

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