Vanuatu Ministry Of Health Confirms Dengue Cases Continue To Rise

34 confirmed out of 119 suspected cases of mosquito-borne virus

Compiled by Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 13, 2016) – The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the number of suspected and confirmed dengue cases continues to rise.

The Ministry has issued an update to the public on the situation of the current dengue outbreak saying that since the last media release (on 1st December when there were 14 suspected cases with 6 confirmed), there are now a total of 119 suspected dengue cases, out of which 34 are confirmed cases.

“The number of suspected and confirmed cases continues to rise.

“Three patients have been hospitalised at Vila Central Hospital whilst the other cases are being managed in their homes.

“Most cases have been infected around the wider Port Vila area.

“However, cases will likely spread to other parts of Efate Island and to other provinces.

“Already there are suspected cases reported from Mele, Eton and Tanna,” the statement signed by Len Tarivonda, Director of Public Health states.

“Blood samples have been collected from the patients and continue to be sent for further testing in New Zealand.

“As of 9th December, 2 cases have been confirmed as Dengue serotype 2, and this is likely to be the species causing the current epidemic. (Dengue is caused by any one of four related viruses transmitted by mosquitoes).”

The Ministry of Health would like to emphasize the importance of early detection and management of the dengue virus.

Anyone who suspects that they have symptoms of dengue should visit their nearest healthcare facility immediately for accurate testing and follow up. This is the key message which everyone must understand and follow.

Dengue illness is suspected if you have symptoms of: High fever for at least 2 days; Severe headache; Nausea and vomiting; Muscle or joint pains; Pain behind the eyes; and Rash.

“Dengue can be a dangerous disease because in severe cases (symptoms may include intense stomach pain, repeated vomiting, bleeding from the nose or gums) it may cause death.

“As there is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue, anyone that has the infection should rest and drink plenty of fluids. Severe cases should be admitted to hospital without delay.”

In response to the current outbreak, the Ministry of Health has instituted the following counter measures to curb the transmission of the virus: The Dengue Task Force continues to meet weekly to appropriately address this issue. Daily briefings are provided by the Operations Team based at Shefa Health (Georges Pompidou); The national surveillance system is being strengthened at national and provincial levels to increase detection and reporting of potential dengue cases; The public is constantly advised to assist in the control and prevention efforts by reducing mosquito breeding sites around homes, and cleaning of yards and public areas; Advice is provided to the public to use personal protection measures such as wearing long sleeved clothes, having proper window/door screens, sleeping under bed-nets, using mosquito repellents etc.; Enhancing the knowledge and skills of health workers to manage dengue cases effectively; Peri-focal insecticide spraying in high-risk areas (where the suspected and confirmed cases reside); Provision of relevant information to all in-bound international travelers (by air and sea) and Engaging the participation of other stakeholders in instituting a multi-sectoral response to the outbreak.

“As we are now entering the wet season, the Ministry of Health advises that it is imperative for the public, including the public and private sectors, to actively engage in personal and household protection measures to prevent and reduce dengue virus transmission.

“Finally, it is important for the public not to panic but to participate in some of the above stated measures at the personal, household and office / corporate levels. The most effective protective measures are those that avoid mosquito bites. And when infected, early recognition and prompt supportive treatment and management can substantially lower the risk of medical complications and death.”

As the situation unfolds, daily updates on the dengue outbreak can be accessed via this link:

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