4 Dec 2014

Chikungunya deaths rise in French Polynesia

1:55 pm on 4 December 2014

In French Polynesia, a total of four people have died including a newborn baby from chikungunya since the outbreak began in early October.

Market in Papeete, French Polynesia

Market in Papeete, French Polynesia Photo: RNZI / Walter Zweifel

The head of surveillance at the Ministry of Health says the most recent death was a baby who contracted the illness at delivery.

The other three of the deaths were of elderly people with chronic diseases.

Dr Henri Pierre Mallet says the number of suspected cases is now estimated to be 18,000 people, with a surge in the number of people seeking medical care in the past week.

He says the illness is usually not severe but the elderly and pregnant women should take special care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes which may carry chikungunya.

"We've had four people who died since the beginning of the outbreaks; who were three old people and one newborn from infected mother."

Dr Henri Pierre Mallet says he hopes the outbreak has nearly peaked in Tahiti but numbers may continue to go up for some weeks in the rest of the territory.

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