13 Feb 2014

WHO warns dengue outbreaks may not be over yet

2:38 pm on 13 February 2014

The World Health Organisation is warning there may still be spikes in the number of cases of dengue fever in the Pacific this season before the weather starts to cool in April.

The head of Emerging Disease Surveillance and Response at WHO in Fiji says people who have existing conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, blood disorders, kidney or liver problems, are at higher risk of developing more severe dengue symptoms.

Dr Eric Nilles says the ease of international travel is driving the spread of arboviruses like dengue, which is transmitted between people by mosquitoes.

He says the dengue season is characterised by hot, wet weather, and normally runs from December to April or May.

There's the tail end of of a dengue outbreak in the Solomon Islands. There's still some dengue cases being reported in Micronesia, and again a tail end of an outbreak. And then there's a larger number of cases being reported in Kiribati, in French Polynesia, in New Caledonia, and Fiji and Vanuatu.

Dr Nilles says the surveillance network for dengue like diseases is robust with 23 nations reporting case numbers on a weekly basis.