8 Jan 2004

Director of Public Health says two new cases of Dengue Fever may be left over from last year

3:18 pm on 8 January 2004

Tongan health authorities have declared a dengue (DENG-gee) fever epidemic, after one confirmed case of the disease and one suspected case detected in the last few days."

The head of public health at Vaiola on Tongatapu, Dr Malakai 'Ake, says calling the outbreak an "epidemic" means a public awareness campaign can be launched and medical centres put on alert.

Dr Ake says the kingdom doesn't have a case of the mosquito-spread fever more than once every five years.

But last year, six people died from the disease.

"Last case we had was in August last year, and then we had this new case here which was confirmed yesterday, and we're still

working out whether it's part of last year's epidemic or is this starting off a new epidemic.

Symptoms of Dengue fever are pain behind the eyes, in the bones, restlessness, shock and internal haemorrhage.