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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (February 23, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Health officials in French Polynesia have issued a warning about an epidemic of mosquito-borne dengue fever.

So far, some 20 cases have been reported.

Representatives of the Public Health Department and the Pape‘ete-base Malardé Research Institute told a press conference that the epidemic was located on the main island of Tahiti and Bora Bora atoll (Leeward group, west of Tahiti).

There are 17 cases on Bora Bora and three on Tahiti (near the international airport of Faa‘a).

The government will focus efforts on destroying mosquito breeding sites, primarily old tires and areas containing stagnant water.

Urban areas also are being fumigated.

Dengue fever is carried mosquitoes.

Symptoms are fever, headache and muscular and joint pain.

Health authorities reminded the population not to take aspirin because its anti-coagulant effects could boost the risk of hemorrhage in a dengue-affected patient.

Officials say the current dengue outbreak has the potential to last three to four months and could affect some 100,000 persons (about half of French Polynesia's population).

Dengue first appeared in French Polynesia about twelve years ago, RFO reported.

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