26 Mar 2011

New Caledonia health authorities want more done to control chikungunya

10:20 am on 26 March 2011

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

Medical Inspector of the Health Department, Dr Jean-Paul Grangeon, says 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.

He says earlier this year two people arriving from Indonesia were diagnosed but mosquitos now appear to have infected a further five people in a Noumea neighbourhood.

"Including those two imported cases we have seven cases of chikungunya in Noumea. The problem is the disease is completely unknown in the population. That means that there's no immunity in the population that's why we're very aware and the health authorities are looking very seriously to that concern."

Dr Grangeon says 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.

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