DOZENS NOW FEARED ILL WITH DENGUE ON EASTER ISLAND

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SANTIAGO, Chile (March 20, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Health officials now fear dozens of people on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), one of the most remote places on earth, may have contracted potentially deadly dengue fever.

Twenty people are undergoing tests for the disease after a 21-year-old woman who had been on Easter Island in January became ill from dengue on returning to mainland Chile.

Chile's Undersecretary for Health, Gonzalo Navarrete, told Reuters news agency that another 59 people are suspected of having had the mosquito-borne illness recently without realizing what it was.

Chilean-governed Easter Island is more than 3,200 kilometers (1,920 miles) from the nearest population centers in Tahiti and Chile.

Some isolated cases of dengue were reported on Easter Island several years ago, but health authorities say the recent confirmed case was probably carried onto the island by a tourist who was then bitten by a mosquito that spread the virus to local residents.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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