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SUVA, Fiji (October 1, 1997 - Radio Australia)---Blood tests now being conducted in Australia are expected to positively identify a virus that is spreading rapidly across the Pacific.

The flu-like virus already has caused illness in at least three Pacific Islands region countries -- the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Samoa. It may be dengue fever.

The virus causes aches, exhaustion, weakness, high fever, and, in severe cases, rashes and bleeding.

Blood samples taken from people who have contracted the virus, apparently from mosquito bites, are being analyzed in Brisbane. The results are expected to be available shortly, Radio Australia reports.

Meantime, the President of Fiji's Medical Association, Sachida Mudaliar, says the epidemic might be aided by the deteriorating condition of the atmosphere --with pollution and the greenhouse gas effect contributing to the spread the disease.

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