Call for public clean-ups to prevent more dengue outbreaks

The Ministry of Health is calling on the public to clean their yards to prevent dengue fever, following an outbreak in Port Vila this week.

The Vila Central Hospital has recorded a total of 18 cases of dengue fever since April with cases identified on the island of Efate in areas such as Teouma, Erakor, Pango, Nambatu, Tebakor, Malapoa, Bladinere, Freshwater and Beverly Hills.

The Director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, says it is important people understand how the mosquito-borne disease spreads and how keeping their yards clean can help to stop infections.

Mr Tarivonda is calling on churches, schools, businesses and community leaders to get together in groups to clean their homes, offices, communities and public areas to prevent the spread of dengue and destroy mosquito breeding sites.

The Acting Surveillance Manager of the Department of Public Health, Wendy William, says the outbreak is now a health concern.

“There are two types of mosquitos that spread dengue fever, there is the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus,” Mrs William said.

She says the two mosquitos can also spread diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and other yellow fever diseases.

Under the World Mosquito Program, between July 2018 and March 2019, the ministry released Wolbachia bacteria-carrying mosquitoes across Port Vila and surrounding areas, covering a population of more than 50,000 people.

Mrs William says the program covered 100 per cent of the places that the Aedes aegypti mosquito lives in.

She says, however, the current outbreak in Port Vila was being spread by the Aedes albopictus mosquito.

She says a health team will be delivering health information in the dengue outbreak affected areas and will be distributing mosquito nets.

The most common signs of dengue fever are nausea; vomiting; rash; and aches and pains including: eye pain, typically behind the eyes; and muscle, joint or bone pain.

As well as removing stagnant water and cleaning their yards, the Ministry of Health is also advising the public to properly cover themselves up to prevent mosquito bites.

The ministry says there is currently no treatment available for dengue fever but sick patients are asked to rest and drink plenty of water.

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