15 Mar 2011

WHO says Pacific needs action to prevent spread of chikungunya

7:22 pm on 15 March 2011

Samoa has been urged to take preventive measures against the chikungunya virus now found in New Caledonia.

Speaking at a symposium in Apia, Dr. Jacob Kool of the World Health Organisation says Samoans must start taking preventive measures seriously.

He says the first cases of chikungunya were seen in New Caledonia late last month and the risk is high it will spread throughout the Pacific.

The virus is very similar to dengue fever and it's also carried by mosquitoes.

Dr. Kool says although there are only three confirmed cases in New Caledonia, two of them were locally acquired, an indication that the mosquitoes are already transmitting it there.

He says an infected traverler will not know initially that he or she is carrying the disease because it takes time to incubate.