The aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for spreading a variety of viruses, including dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. 16050214
An unidentified virus is spreading amongst residents, while the dengue outbreak continues to also put stress on the healthcare system with increased hospitalisations.
Public health officials are exploring the emergence of a
potentially new viral disease that’s taking hold in the country.
A number of residents have recently experienced the
tell-tale symptoms of dengue fever, however testing carried out by health
officials have returned negative results for the common mosquito-borne virus.
Dr Anura Jayasinghe, a public health specialist with Te
Marae Ora Ministry of Health, said the ministry has inquired further into the
negative cases, where blood samples from affected residents have failed to
indicate the presence of dengue or other common tropical mosquito-borne
“Usually we check samples for other things like chikungunya
and Zika, but recently we haven’t found any chikungunya and Zika in Cook
Islands samples,” Jayasinghe said.
“It must be another viral disease.”
Jayasinghe said a number of the cases could possibly be the
result of “false negatives”, where the presence of dengue wasn’t detected
through testing, however the quantity of negative tests being reported likely
indicates the presence of a different virus.
Doctors and hospital clinicians have yet to inquire with Te
Marae Ora’s public health unit regarding the number of negative test results,
“… if we get more dengue-like symptoms and there are
negatives then we’ll have to think differently,” Jayasinghe said.
“We are vigilant and if we get that information from
hospital doctors, we will think about that.”
On April 1, Te Marae Ora’s public health unit reported a
total of 220 suspected, probable, and confirmed cases of dengue-like illness.
And in the last 30 days, Te Marae Ora has reported a nearly
50 per cent increase in hospitalisations, from 23 to 34 cases.
The bulk of the cases are confined to Rarotonga. To date,
health authorities have reported one case in Aitutaki and a single case in
To assist public health officials during the current
outbreak, Jayasinghe asked the public to continue targeting mosquito breeding
“Once we identify a case, we’ll do spraying, but it will
only target adult mosquitos. If breeding sites are intact, more mosquitos will
come from those sites.”