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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, Mar.6) - Latest statistics disclosed by New Caledonia's health authorities reveal there are now 184 new cases of dengue fever in the French Pacific territory since January 1, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

This is 56 more than the last update, which was only last week.

The most affected areas include the northern towns of Poindimié and the capital Nouméa (South). But new cases have also been detected in the small towns of La Foa, Moindou and Pouebo, which were until now exempt from dengue fever cases, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes.

Whereas spraying campaigns to remove any potential mosquito larvae breeding sites such as still waters have been reactivated since January, the war on mosquitoes has now moved to another front: education.

The territory's department of education has undertaken a massive awareness campaign in schools.

This will involve one educator and one medical doctor touring schools to conduct information sessions about the disease.

Here again, the main target is the infamous "aedes aegypti", the scientific name of the virus-carrying mosquito.

Education officials are also planning to introduce next week an "educational kit" dedicated to dengue awareness.

This would contain one videotape and a set of "dengue facts".

Meanwhile, health authorities have renewed calls to the general public, recommending that any one suffering symptoms similar to the mosquito-transmitted disease immediately see a medical doctor.

Doctors throughout the French territory have also been reminded that they are required to declare all suspicious cases to the authorities.

Local health services Superintendent Jean-Paul Grangeon earlier said the real figures could be as much as four times higher than the official ones.

"The problem is that some people suffering from the symptoms do not go and see their doctor or try to deal with it alone," he said.

March 6, 2003

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