Federal help arrives to fight American Samoa dengue outbreak
A federal epedemiology team has arrived in American Samoa to help with the response to a dengue fever outbreak that has gripped the territory.
A federal epidemiology team has arrived in American Samoa to help with the response to a dengue fever outbreak that has gripped the territory.
Four people have died, 50 have been hospitalised, and 140 diagnosed with dengue as the outbreak enters its eighth week, with some health officials labelling it an epidemic.
Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, told Jamie Tahana the outbreak has many people concerned.
However, she says there is now a concerted effort to stop dengue in its tracks with the team from the Centres for Disease control arriving on island.
MONICA MILLER: The local health authorities just wanted to get reassurance, just to see that they're doing the right thing, and there is a dengue branch of the CDC in Puerto Rico, and some of the officials in this initial team of three that arrived last night includes the acting lead from that dengue branch in Puerto Rico. They're going to just work alongside the authorities here, already there's been several meetings and there's also been a media campaign to get villagers and families to drain containers that collect water where the mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus and get rid of these containers. There's also been an effort by the Department of Health to place tablets in the types of containers that are hard to turn over or collect and dump elsewhere, and these are things like junk vehicles, abandoned boats that are on the ground, that sort of thing.
JAMIE TAHANA: Is there any sign yet that the effort is working? Are cases still increasing? Have they stagnated?
MM: The latest reports from the Department of Health indicate that the spread is not as far as it used to be. There are also no cases in the intensive care unit of the people that have been admitted and so they believe that the spread is being contained. Of course, those are the reports from the health officials and I think by the end of this week we'll know if that still holds. As far as deaths, the last death occurred about two weeks ago and there haven't been any more fatalities and, you know, as I say, we'll wait until the end of this week for the epidemiology report as to whether it is another big jump in the number of people with dengue.
JT: Until eight weeks ago, until this outbreak, was dengue particularly common in American Samoa?
MM: No, actually when the deaths were first reported last month it came as a shock because there had not been any more cases of dengue and the health authorities say this is quite unusual when the cases that did pass away, they came into the hospital with flu-like symptoms and then in a matter of days they quickly deteriorated and passed on. So they're quite worried about this type of dengue -- type three -- which is haemorrhagic and can be fatal.
JT: Is there any kind of knowledge yet of what's behind this epidemic?
MM: You know, that's something that the health authorities haven't been able to answer. I mean, they say that dengue has always been here because there have been outbreaks before, but it's this serious onset that seems to be new, or the prevalence of it. It is really startling to the people that we've talked to that are heavily involved in the response.
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