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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 4, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A leading health official in Fiji has warned that the country is at risk of another serious dengue epidemic this year, possibly more lethal than last year’s outbreak.

Dr Bijendra Ram, a public health expert, spoke about the possible outbreak of dengue at a health conference in the capital, Suva.

The warning by Dr Ram was prompted by a dengue epidemic affecting certain parts of Australia caused by a more deadly virus.

He said Fiji’s close proximity to Australia and the large movement of people between the two countries puts Fiji at high risk of the deadly dengue virus.

Ten people died in last year’s dengue outbreak, the worst dengue epidemic to have hit Fiji.

Thousands of people were affected all over the country, which put a serious strain on the country’s health services.

Dr Ram said a recent survey by the South Pacific Vector Control Unit of the northern town of Labasa, on the second largest island Vanua Levu, showed the presence of high density of mosquitoes responsible for the spread of the virus.

"Experts consider people in the Labasa area to be particularly vulnerable to the risk of infection," he said.

The Health Ministry will soon begin a month-long anti-dengue campaign in anticipation of the risk of another epidemic.

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