27 May 2015

SPC calling for urgent action on chikungunya

9:09 pm on 27 May 2015

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says the chikungunya virus has now spread through half of the Pacific and is likely to reach non-affected countries in the region over the next five years.

]Since 2011, when the first outbreak of chikungunya was detected in New Caledonia,14 outbreaks have been reported by 11 of the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.

Dr Yvan Souarès says the SPC's calls for a regional response to reinforce mosquito control services to reduce the debilitating chikungunya virus transmission have not yet been heard and the situation is now urgent.

"We don't have any vaccine. We don't have any specific treatment for chikungunya virus. Hence the only way remaining to fight that disease is to try to control the mosquitos. And that's precisely what the Pacific islands are not equipped at all for doing."

Dr Souares says five countries are currently experiencing outbreaks with a growing number of cases in the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands and ongoing outbreaks in Kiribati, Samoa and American Samoa.

He says symptoms of chikungunya include high fever, fatigue and prolonged joint pain, which can limit activity and hurt economies.

Mosquito

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus Photo: 123rf

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