NEW CALEDONIA DENGUE EPIDEMIC REACHES 5,000 CASES

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No signs the spread is abating

NOUMEA, March 31 (Oceania Flash) – The epidemic of the mosquito-transmitted dengue fever is this week reaching the 5,000 mark in terms of reported cases, with still no sign of slowing down.

According to the latest official count provided on Monday by the Health and Social Affairs Department (DASS), there were 4,722 persons infected with the virus as at March 30.

This also includes 2,673 new cases, just for the current month of March.

In previous months, the propagation rate was much slower: 1,568 in February and 481 in January.

Earlier this month, New Caledonia’s dengue fever epidemic has claimed the life of a third victim, an elderly person from the North of the main island.

Health authorities are more alarmed than ever with the exponential rate of growth of the disease and at least one hundred new cases reported each day.

Another complicating factor was the current spell of rainy weather, and the passage last week of a tropical depression called Jasper, which is boosting the proliferation of mosquito larvae in this hot and humid season.

Even though Jasper did not cause significant damage, it brought torrential rains and caused several areas in New Caledonia to be flooded.

Since the epidemic began in September last year, territorial health services, as well as those from the Provinces and the capital Nouméa, have stepped up their efforts in order to sensitise the population to the need to observe basic prevention rules against dengue fever.

These included ridding compounds and house surroundings from any recipients or old tyres that could retain still waters (where mosquito larvae can fast develop), use personal insect repellents, as well as mosquito nets to avoid insect bites.

Teams are also regularly visiting residential areas in order to check on whether basic rules have been respected.

Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Its symptoms include fever, joint pains, and nausea.

If left untreated, the virus can lead to internal haemorrhage.

The epidemic currently prevailing in New Caledonia mainly concerns the serotype 4 of the virus, which had not been present in the French Pacific territory for at least thirty years, therefore making the population more vulnerable because it has not been exposed to this serotype and is not naturally immunised.

Previous dengue epidemics in New Caledonia were of the serotype 1.

In French Polynesia, health authorities are also worried at the increasing number of type 4 dengue cases reported to date: 76 since the beginning of this year.

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