FEARS OF A NEW DENGUE STRAIN IN COOK ISLANDS

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (April 21, 2002 – Radio Australia)---There are fears in the Cook Islands that a new strain of mosquito-borne dengue fever has hit the country.

Health department officials reported that there have been several new cases of the disease in the capital, Rarotonga, and blood samples have been sent overseas to determine if there is another strain present.

Health secretary Tupu Araiti said the test results should be known this week.

The new cases have raised the possibility that an earlier campaign to eradicate mosquitoes, nicknamed "Operation Namu," may have to be reactivated.

Mr. Araiti said most of the outer islands are free of the disease and the attention will mainly focus on Rarotonga.

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

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