Dengue fever outbreak in Port Vila

The Ministry of Health has reported an outbreak of dengue fever in Port Vila, with 17 new cases of the mosquito-borne disease identified in the capital this week.

The dengue cases were confirmed by the ministry’s Health Surveillance Team after blood tests undertaken by the Vila Central Hospital laboratory came back positive.

National Coordinator for the Vector Borne Disease Control Program, Wesly Donald, says investigations are underway to reduce the risk of new infections in the areas the 17 cases came from and to prevent spread to other places.

He says a program team will be observing risk factors in the identified areas and will provide preventative health information to those communities.

The team will then return to spray insecticide in those areas to kill mosquitoes and prevent further breeding.
In an effort to reduce dengue outbreaks, the ministry, with support from the Australian Government, released mosquitoes carrying the naturally-occurring Wolbachia-bacteria across Port Vila and surrounding areas from July 2018 to March 2019.

Once these Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes are released, they breed with wild mosquitoes and over time, they are less able to transmit viruses to people, reducing the risk of dengue, chikungunya and zika diseases.

The Director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda , says, “We hope that the local mosquitoes that we inserted the [Wolbachia] bacteria into in 2018, will help reduce the disease.”

Mr Tarivonda called on the public to clean their yards and destroy mosquito breeding sites, such as stagnant water, to prevent new dengue cases.

“We are monitoring the level of the dengue outbreak,” he said.

The 17 people who have dengue are undergoing treatment at the Vila Central Hospital.

 

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