25 Mar 2011

New Caledonia fights chikungunya outbreak

2:21 pm on 25 March 2011

Health authorities in New Caledonia have called for tougher measures to try to contain the spread of the mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya.

A first case was detected nearly a month ago in a person arriving from Indonesia but now five more people have been diagnosed in a Noumea neighbourhood.

Chikungunya symptoms are similar to those of dengue, with high fever accompanied by pains in the joints and the muscles, headaches and often skin rash.

The authorities say the appearance of a cluster of cases calls for new ways to try to fight the disease as there may be resistance to the chemicals being used now.

The insecticide used in the spraying campaign has been replaced by malathion which has been banned in France since 2008.

Parents are also advised to apply repellants to their children before they are sent to school.

In the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, the disease claimed 250 lives in 2006 when an epidemic hit about a third of the island's population.