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Expect rise in dengue fever cases, says WHO

Torika Tokalau And Siteri Sauvakacolo
Sunday, February 23, 2014

THE World Health Organization says the number of dengue fever cases would increase in the coming months.

An Information Ministry statement on Friday night said the Health Ministry had recorded 3330 confirmed dengue cases.

At a general practitioners' seminar in Suva yesterday, the national adviser for communicable diseases, Dr Mike Kama, said there were 6659 suspected dengue fever cases recorded as of February 16.

Dr Kama said of these suspected cases, 2589 were tested positive while two confirmed and two suspected dengue deaths were recorded by the health authorities.

Jane Wallace, WHO's senior health adviser at the South Pacific office in Suva, said Fiji was experiencing strain three dengue fever, which is also being reported in many other Pacific Island countries.

"The number of cases is expected to continue to increase in the coming months in many places, including Fiji, French Polynesia and Kiribati," Ms Wallace said.

"As children are born who have not been infected with a specific dengue virus serotype, they create a susceptible cohort.

"Therefore, it is not uncommon for dengue serotypes to re-emerge in the Pacific after being absent for 15 to 20 years, likely because the proportion of the population that is susceptible has increased above a certain threshold."

Ms Wallace said the anticipated increase was also because of the patterns seen in past dengue outbreaks in the Pacific, numbers of new cases being seen and seasonality.

"In Fiji for example, it is the wetter season and the number of mosquitoes that transmit dengue is higher than in the dry season."

"The last time Fiji had a dengue fever outbreak was in 1997 to 1998 — this was of Type 2.

"Before that, a dengue Type 1 epidemic occurred in Fiji between July 1989 and July 1990."

Meanwhile, WHO and SPC have provided technical and financial assistance to Fiji to confirm and respond to the outbreak.

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