THE Ministry of Health says it suspects a new strain of dengue is circulating in Fiji following the discovery of 13 new dengue cases at the CWM Hospital in the last week alone.
The ministry was alerted to the possibility after finding out that along with the 13 new cases, there were also 42 more cases recorded at CWMH in the previous four weeks.
Communicable diseases acting national adviser Dr Mike Kama explained there were four strains of dengue with most people in Fiji immune to the endemic dengue 1 strain.
"Most people in Fiji are immune to dengue 1 so it requires an introduction of another type in order for these kinds of things to happen," he said.
"So we are suspecting that may be the case but we don't have that information right now. We've sent our blood away to try to ascertain that."
He said a team had visited CWMH after learning of the unusually high number of new dengue cases.
"Last week in CWM, the laboratory people reported 13 cases of dengue in consecutive days so that is very unusual.
"So a team from Mataika house went down and took a look at their records and found that in the last four weeks, from November to December 10, they've had 154 tests done for dengue.
"And they've confirmed using the rapid dengue test kits that there were 42 cases of dengue.
"Of those 42 cases, more than 50 per cent were confirmed for acute dengue."
Dr Kama also said the Western Division recorded 52 confirmed cases in October and another 20 in December.
But he stopped short of declaring the new cases part of a larger outbreak, explaining that more information was needed.
"We are trying to get more information in terms of the clinical data that we have in order for us to zoom down and see whether it's focused and localised to a certain locality and then we can declare it as an outbreak or not."
He added that the number of dengue cases for the same time period this year compared to last year was unusually and significantly higher.