SPC says chikungunya growing in French Polynesia
French Polynesia has confirmed 541 cases of the mosquito borne illness chikungunya in the last three weeks of October and in the last week two people in New Caledonia have also tested positive.
French Polynesia has confirmed almost 600 cases of the mosquito borne illness chikungunya in the last three weeks of October.
In the past week two people in New Caledonia have also tested positive for the virus.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says French Polynesia has been carrying a heavy burden of arboviruses with concurrent outbreaks of chikungunya, dengue and zika earlier this year.
The SPC's Adam Roth says many cases are not reported but figures confirm chikungunya numbers are building in the region.
ADAM ROTH: There are plenty of arbovirus circulations and outbreaks in the Pacific region this year. And there's the situation where we've seen an increasing amount of concurrent outbreaks both of dengue and chikungunya and zika virus. And the first semester of 2014 we had for instance nine new arboviral outbreaks during those six months.
JENNY MEYER: Can you tell me which countries have been the worst affected by these illnesses?
AR: It's been pretty well spread out. Many countries have had different outbreaks. But if we look regionally I mean in French Polynesia you had both dengue 1 and dengue 3 and zika virus. And now chikungunya is coming. So there is definitely a heavy burden country. But also Solomon Islands have had a really big dengue 3 outbreak although that was previously, last year.
JM: Are there any countries where the numbers of cases are continuing to build at the moment?
AR: We are looking currently at the second half of this year 2014. The zika virus, there are no, as we know of at least, zika virus outbreaks going on. Also there are a few dengue virus type 3 and type 1 still going on but they're more on the decline as far as we know. But what is currently very worrying is the chikungunya outbreak in French Polynesia. So far we have confirmed 541 cases. And also there have been two cases imported from Tahiti to New Caledonia of chikungunya. So that's the main outbreak that's currently building I think. There's also chikungunya and dengue 3 in Tonga that we haven't had much report of lately.
JM: I understand Samoa has also struggled, in fact there were extra precautions put in place with a large gathering there. Is that the kind of thing that is increasingly going to need to happen to try and combat these illnesses?
AR: Samoa has chikungunya and the outbreak is still ongoing there, the cases are not building up as far as we know though. At mass gatherings we try to enhance surveillance and be very active and very proactive actually in all kinds of outbreaks in order not to spread disease around the region. Otherwise the main interventions that you have to work with are the usual ones with community awareness and trying to destroy or eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Also there could be more active spraying etcetera against mosquitoes in some countries.
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