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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 16) – Seven cases of confirmed dengue fever have been reported since June and the public health department says it is being vigilant about keeping a Cook Islands epidemic at bay.

Two cases were reported in June, three cases in July, none in August and three this month.

Two cases were in Aitutaki and the rest in Rarotonga-Nikao, Aroa and Pue.

"We have been on the alert since June," says public health director Ngapoko Short.

Short says the department has been working hard to prevent a dengue fever outbreak.

"We have one team doing surveillance, one team treating swamp areas and one team doing public education in the maternal child health clinics and in the schools during school visits," says Short.

Surveillance involves inspecting properties for mosquito breeding places and spraying to destroy mosquito capacity in and around the location of cases.

The spray used around households is Reslin, an insecticide for flying insects.

Health inspector Charlie Ave says a larvicide is used to kill mosquitos in swamp areas.

"The larvicide attacks the gut lining of the mosquito larvae and the larvae die instantly," says Ave.

Radio talks, captions and news articles will be stepped up to encourage community preventative measures.

Public health is urging people with symptoms of dengue fever to consult their GP or doctors at the hospital and community health centre in Tupapa.

Symptoms are high fever, joint/muscle pain, sensitivity to light, headache and rash which may appear with or without itching.

Short says surveillance reports indicate there are many homes with containers lying in the yard-ideal for mosquito breeding.

"We are asking everyone to make extra effort to clean their yard and destroy all mosquito breeding sites," she says.

September 22, 2006

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