14 Feb 2013

Some dengue spikes pose no risk to general Pacific, says WHO

4:37 pm on 14 February 2013

The World Health Organisation says despite the recent outbreak of dengue fever in New Caledonia travellers to the Pacific region are not at high risk of the disease if they take precautions.

Dr Eric Nilles says the disease is spread by mosquitoes - and temperature, rainfall and humidity are all factors in the likelihood and severity of outbreaks.

He says people can take preventive steps by clearing rubbish and emptying water containers around homes and using insect repellents.

He says dengue has the potential to cause substantial problems to the health of communities with large economic burdens on small nations but most parts of the region are currently dengue free.

"There is a fairly substantial outbreak in New Caledonia, there is also a small outbreak in Solomon Islands, there is an outbreak in Federated States of Micronesia, and then there's just a couple of cases just recently reported from French Polynesia. A relatively small number when you consider there are more than 20 islands, countries and territories in the Pacific."

The WHO's Medical Officer for the Emerging Diseases and Response Unit in Suva, Dr Eric Nilles.