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PAPE'ETE, French Polynesia (March 6, 001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Health officials in French Polynesia have launched an intensive spraying campaign to eradicate mosquitoes responsible for a dengue outbreak on some of the French territory's islands, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reports.

Since mid-February, 27 cases of dengue have been confirmed, primarily on the main island of Tahiti and on Bora Bora (west of Tahiti, in the Leeward group).

Anti-vector-borne disease teams have been dispatched to the main outbreak areas to spray insecticides from specially equipped trucks.

The spraying campaign is mainly designed to contain the outbreak.

"We have three vehicles, all four wheel drive, and equipped with an aerosol generator," anti-vector-borne team leader Dr Stéphane Loncke said.

On the main island of Tahiti, the main targeted areas are Faa'a (near the territory's international airport) and in several districts of the capital, Pape'ete.

"But now, we're going to widen our scope, going further into the center of Tahiti."

Spraying is not normally conducted in French Polynesia. Authorities say regular spraying only tends to boost the natural defenses in mosquitoes.

Two types of insecticides, permethrin and malathion, currently are being used.

"Those two products are based on two different types of molecules and they kill all mosquitoes, but also flies and other flying insects," said Loncke.

"They are not a threat to the environment, but we recommend to the public that they protect food when we are spraying nearby."

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