FIJI DENGUE FEVER OUTBREAK SERIOUS

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SUVA, Fiji (January 6, 1998 - PACNEWS)--- Doctors in Fiji are bracing themselves for more dengue fever deaths following confirmation by government Virus Laboratory analysts that the current outbreak is caused by a new strain of the mosquito-borne disease, Radio Fiji reports.

Dr. Joe Koroivueta says the new strain of the disease is more virulent, and fatal in many cases. He says the deaths of three people are "just the tip of the iceberg."

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry says it welcomes any overseas help to combat the dengue fever outbreak.

Health authorities in the Australian state of Queensland reportedly already have offered to provide assistance.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. Asinate Boladuadua says while there has been no official confirmation of the Queensland offer, it has been widely reported in the media. Any assistance will be warmly received, she added.

To help prevent spread of the dengue virus, the Ba town council Monday began spraying insecticides to kill mosquitoes, and hopes to complete the project by the end of the week.

Town Clerk Azmat Khan says while there have been no reported cases of dengue in Ba, the council decided it would be prudent to join the campaign as a preventative measure.

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