Chikungunya Virus Outbreak Confirmed In Samoa

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Public asked to join in mosquito eradication campaign

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, August 12, 2014) – The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri confirmed this afternoon that Samoa is now facing an outbreak of the Chickungunya virus and the public is cautioned to join the national campaign in reducing breeding sites for mosquitos, the carriers of the virus.

Last Saturday the Ministry received the results of the 20 suspected cases sent to the South Pacific Commission office in Noumea for testing.

"Of the 20 specimens tested, 08 came back positive and 14 negative," Leausa said in a press conference.

The tests also confirmed that the virus is Chickungunya and officially removes the Acute Fever and Rash (AFR) as previously suspected.

"AFR could be any diseases but Chickungunya is now officially the virus now spreading in the country."

Two suspected of the virus died last week, but according to Leausa, there is no confirmation that they both died from Chickungunya.

"One is a 45 years old man and the other a 14 year old girl," confirmed Leausa.

He said the man had other medical conditions which could have caused his death and so was the girl, whom Leausa said the test results were inconclusive.

"We can’t link her death to Chickungunya," said Leausa.

As of this month, the number of suspected cases had risen to 96, with females dominating at 52 and males 44.

"The children are the ones with the highest number," said Leausa.

The most vulnerable to the virus are those in the age group of 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, and 20 – 24.

Leausa also said that people react to virus differently and the Ministry is now working on the Control and Contain campaign to try and reduce the number from increasing and to contain in on Upolu Island.

"Only a few cases have been reported from Faasaleleaga district in Savai’i," said Leausa.

The Ministry has launched a national campaign in reducing the source of the virus, joined by other Government ministries such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Reducing the rubbish and spraying areas where mosquitoes breed will deter the breeding and reduce the carriers (mosquitoes) from spreading it.

Asked about the international travellers, Leausa said it is difficult to stop that.

He said the Ministry gave out information and advice to a tennis group who wish to participate in a tennis tournament in American Samoa, and whilst it was not advisable to travel, it is the people’s choice if they wish to travel or not.

The most densely populated areas are the ones vulnerable to the virus which includes Faleata and Vaimauga.

Figures show Faleata East-22, Vaimauga West-25, Faleata West – 15, Sagaga le Falefa- 07, Aana Alofi – 03, Vaimauga East – 04 with a total 89 infected in these areas.

In Safata- 02, Gagaemauga – 01, Anoamaa West – 01 and Faasaleleaga – 01.

The report on suspected cases was compiled between 24/7/2014 and 11/8/2014.

Within this short period, the number had risen quickly.

In the town area, the campaign is well underway with the spraying and clearing the rubbish.

Before it was only the international ports of entry that were targeted for spraying but now, the campaign is covering the whole country.

The Ministry is reassuring the public that they are doing that is necessary to prevent the situation from getting worse, but in doing so, the public needs to help with the campaign.

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