Chikungunya Outbreak On Rise In Cook Islands

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Ministry of Health wants community to take preventive measures

By Sarah Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 30, 2015) – According to the Ministry of Health, the Chikungunya outbreak is on the rise and it’s the community that have brought about this increase.

The ministry is issuing a plea to the public to ensure they take better measures to protect themselves and the community from the debilitating illness.

As of yesterday, there have been a total of 322 Chikungunya cases reported to the ministry since October last year, and it is now spreading to the outer islands as well.

Of these 322 cases, there have been five cases reported on Aitutaki, nine on Rakahanga and two on Manihiki.

Health protection manager, Tangata Vaeau, says the public need to make more of an effort to help contain the outbreak.

"If you get sick and present similar symptoms to that of Chikungunya, you need to stay home until you are well again so you don’t put your friends, family and workplace at risk."

Vaeau says the disease is easily spread if someone with the disease is in close proximity to someone who is unaffected.

"If you have the illness, a mosquito could bite you, and then bite your friend and infect them too."

He says if you must leave the house, you should always wear long pants and jerseys and use insect repellent.

Vaeau also says it’s a good idea to sleep with a mosquito net for protection in the early hours of the morning.

He says while it is a day time mosquito which sleeps over night, it is active and feeding from dawn till dusk.

As well as containing yourself if sick, the ministry says the community should keep up the good work eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

With the unlucky set of wet weather lately, the ministry Tutaka health checks and aerial sprays were out of action and therefore, Vaeau says the public really needs to step in and help with preventative measures.

The ministry will today continue with aerial sprays to kill adult mosquitoes at the homes of reported victims, but they are urging the public to continue playing their part in this process too.

"Make sure that any bodies of water are dried out and spray your house with repellent and mosquito coils," says Vaeau.

"God help the Cook Islands, because if it rains, there’s nothing more we can do in that time" he says.

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