French Polynesian health authorities fight two epidemics
Mosquitos carrying zika virus and dengue fever have led to a double epidemic in French Polynesia, with up to half the population becoming unwell over the past three months.
The head of health surveillance in French Polynesia says despite facing two mosquito borne epidemics over the past three months, the outbreaks of zika virus and dengue fever, now appear to be under control.
Dr Henri-Pierre Mallet told Jenny Meyer the zika virus infected up to half of the total population of 270 000 and some people have been confirmed with both illnesses.
HENRI-PIERRE MALLET: Now we are still facing two epidemics in French Polynesia, zika virus outbreak is currently decreasing we can say in most of the islands and especially in Tahiti and Moorea. It's now decreasing because they were the first islands confirmed with infections. Some other islands like in Marquesas or Australs, the epidemic is still ongoing but slowly decreasing also. Last estimation about number of consultations for zika syndrome should be around 26,000 exactly but we probably had a lot of other people who had the syndrome but did not consult, did not reach medical services so we can imagine that more than half of the population maybe could have been infected.
JENNY MEYER: It's been a major exercise for your health department I imagine to try and get that epidemic under control, can you say that it is under control?
H-P M: Fact is that the large majority of cases were very mild symptoms, it was not a problem in terms of several cases but we have this suspected complicated cases of zika who then develop guillain-barre syndromes and we still increase last week. Now it seems to be reduced, the total number since the beginning is 38 guillain-barre syndromes, reduced threat and hospitalise in main hospital here.
JM: Guillain-Barre can be quite a complicated illness, have those people required intensive care treatment or ventilation at all?
H-P M: So some have had ventilation but I think no more are in the ventilation situation but for a few people they will need more attention for several weeks or months.
JM: Has any one died from the zika virus as far as you know?
H-P M: No, no deaths of zika virus, no identified deaths and we don't think that we had those cases.
JM: And can you tell me now about the dengue fever situation because that is a more deadly illness also born by mosquitos.
H-P M: Zika is decreasing, we can fear that dengue fever and especially the same than the other countries, the serotype-3, could be at the origin of a new outbreak so we are very vigilant with that.
Dr Mallet says one child died from dengue last November but the number of cases in French Polynesia is quite stable at the moment. He says people need to be careful to control mosquitos as the rainy season develops and neighbouring countries fight dengue outbreaks.
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