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AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (March 30, 2002 - Cook Islands News/PINA Nius Online)---An Aitutaki resident has tested positive for dengue, the first reported case on the island since the Rarotonga epidemic began, Cook Islands News reported.

Island medical officer Dr. Mata Strickland blamed two Rarotonga sports teams that visited the island for spreading dengue fever to Aitutaki.

Aitutaki is 225 kilometers (135 miles) north of Rarotonga, the heaviest populated of the Cook Islands and where the dengue outbreak at one stage forced schools to close.

Dengue fever is a viral infection that is spread via mosquito bites. The most severe form can kill but most people develop headaches and back, bone and joint pain.

The confirmation of the Aitutaki case came after earlier reports that local police threatened to remove the Rarotonga teams when they arrived on the island.

"They came here in spite of advice that it is not a good idea for groups from Rarotonga to travel to the outer islands at the moment," Dr. Strickland said.

"What annoys me is that I think they had encouragement from local people to come to the island and stay here."

Other sources on Aitutaki told Cook Islands News that Mayor Tai (Tango) Herman had been heavily criticized for allowing the teams to come from Rarotonga.

"I have heard a lot of people have even been threatening the mayor," Dr. Strickland said.

"I don't think he’s been getting much sleep at night because of all the phone calls."

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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