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Dengue-like symptoms prompt fears of mosquito-borne illness

Wednesday 27 January 2021 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Health, National


Dengue-like symptoms prompt fears of mosquito-borne illness
Perifocal, or block spraying, for mosquitos has been a vital part of Te Marae Ora’s efforts to control dengue fever. 20110645

Ministry of Health is resuming mosquito block spraying programme following reports of people presenting with dengue-like symptoms in Rarotonga.

There are fears dengue fever is back just little over two months after Te Marae Ora health ministry officially declared the outbreak in the Cook Islands over.

The Health ministry yesterday confirmed that in recent weeks, they have noticed an increase in the number of people presenting with dengue-like symptoms.

However, the ministry is waiting for final confirmation as test samples are being sent to New Zealand for analysis.

Te Marae Ora said: “This is not a dissimilar time to when people started getting infected last year. The weather patterns lately have lent themselves to ideal conditions for mosquitos to breed. This also means that some places around the island need a good clean up.”

Health spokesperson Jaewynn McKay says test samples of the latest probable cases are being sent to New Zealand for analysis. Cook Islands News understands 15 probable cases have been recorded in recent weeks.

Once the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory is up and running, McKay said they would be able to do these tests in-country. The laboratory which will also significantly improve Cook Islands’ Covid-19 testing capabilities is expected to be ready by the end of next month.

Acting Secretary for Health Dr Tereapii Uka said: “People diagnosed with dengue should stay home, away from others and they should discourage visitors. The use of mosquito nets and coils is also a good deterrent.”

Dr Uka said the best way for people to play their part in the prevention of another dengue outbreak “is by keeping their yards and outdoor areas clean and eliminating potential mosquito resting and breeding sites”.

The Health ministry is also recommencing the mosquito block spraying programme from today (weather permitting).  The spraying will take place in the Ngatangiia-Turangi, Avana, Muri area.

Spraying in Titikaveka-Tikioki, Turoa and Vaimaanga is expected tomorrow followed by Blackrock-Arorangi sport field on Friday. On Saturday, the health officials will carry out mosquito block spraying programme from the National Stadium to the Tepuka bus stop. Spraying will resume on Monday February 1 and February 2 around school areas.

“Te Marae Ora apologises for any inconvenience caused but advises those who live in the affected areas to take washing off the clothes lines, close your windows, cover cooking and eating utensils, tables and benches that are outside and please stay clear and stay indoors for 30 minutes after the spraying has completed.”

The dengue outbreak was declared “over” by Te Marae Ora in November last year.

From the time of the initial declaration of a dengue outbreak in February 2019, 380 probable or confirmed cases were reported across the Cook Islands, including six in Aitutaki and five in Pukapuka.

Of those, 77 people were admitted to hospital, but no deaths were attributed to dengue infection.

In the years 2019 and 2020, there was an increase in the number of cases between the months of February and May, then a continuing downward trend in the remainder of the year.

In 2019, a total of 127 cases were reported with three DenV-2 cases and 47 people hospitalised.

Last year alone, the ministry recorded a total of 253 cases with 58 dengue type 2 cases. Thirty people were hospitalised.