Safe from dengue so far - Health official

Friday January 05, 2018 Written by Published in Health
The dengue mosquito is active only during the daytime – but that’s no consolation to those hit by the disease in countries around the Pacific. 18010412 The dengue mosquito is active only during the daytime – but that’s no consolation to those hit by the disease in countries around the Pacific. 18010412

Despite growing concerns at outbreaks of dengue fever in some parts of the Pacific, the Cook Islands so far remains safe from the mosquito-borne disease.

 

Acting director of community health Valentino Wichman told CI News there were “no dengue cases as of last week” recorded in the country.

However, he said the Health ministry was aware of the problem and keeping a close eye on the growing number of dengue cases in neighbouring countries.

The ministry was also initiating strategies to keep the Cook Islands safe from the disease, he added.

The Fiji Times this week reported an outbreak of dengue fever in the northern part of Fiji.

Fiji’s health ministry told The Fiji Times that the Labasa Hospital received 39 to 78 confirmed cases of dengue every week since November 20 last year.

It said from November 20 to December 17, there had been 279 confirmed cases reported from the province of Macuata, mostly from the Labasa Town area, with a notable increase in the number of dengue fever cases.

There have also been at least four deaths from the disease in Samoa, where more than 1500 cases had been confirmed by early last month, and the outbreak has even affected New Zealand, with 28 cases reported in Auckland in the past two months.

Reiterating an earlier statement, Wichman said since 2015, there had been no outbreaks of any mosquito-borne disease in the Cook Islands. He said the Ministry of Health would like to maintain this during the 2017/2018 festive period. 

“The Ministry of Health is always conscious and are always on the alert as we are surrounded by Pacific island countries where ongoing Dengue serotype 1 and 2 is circulating or ongoing,” Wichman earlier said.

“The Ministry of Health are aware of the outbreaks in other Pacific countries and are concerned. The Ministry has routine monitoring and surveillance activities in place, and this will continue with skeleton staff on duty during the festive period.

“MOH is continuously monitoring passengers arriving from dengue affected countries like Samoa, Wallis Futuna, Fiji, and Tahiti, ever since the beginning of the outbreaks in these countries.

“Port Health Officers will continue to monitor all international flights and assess passengers arriving from these affected Pacific island countries. They will continue to monitor and spray all ships/boat arriving to our international ports of entry.”

The Tutaka programme, a nationwide cleanup campaign was activated last month to ensure destruction of mosquito breeding sites which is on the rise especially during this rainy period.

In 2015, the Cook Islands was hit by an outbreak of the debilitating mosquito disease chikungunya, the side effects of which continue to affect the health of some Rarotonga residents.

There was a serious outbreak of dengue in the Cook Islands in 2002, with an estimated 2,200 cases reported on Rarotonga. Around 390 people were hospitalised with the disease.

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