9 Jan 2004

Tongan health official says fever cases may be linked to last year's outbreak

11:55 am on 9 January 2004

Tongan health authorities have declared a dengue 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, Doctor 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 fever, which is spread by mosquitos, 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 have this new case here, which was confirmed yesterday. We're still working... whether he's part of last year's epidemic or if this is part of a new epidemic."