30 Jan 2014

French Polynesian health authorities say epidemics under control

8:21 pm on 30 January 2014

The head of health surveillance in French Polynesia says two mosquito borne epidemics over the past three months now appear to be under control.

Dr Henri-Pierre Mallet says the zika virus infected up to fifty per cent of the total population of 270 000 people.

He says most only had a mild illness.

However Dr Mallet says 38 people with zika virus subsequently became seriously ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome and some needed ventilation and intensive care.

He says as zika begins to wane, the focus is now on the serotype-3 dengue fever, but this is not escalating as quickly as in other neighbouring countries, such as Fiji and Vanuatu.

Zika outbreak is now decreasing in French Polynesia. We have still some cases in some islands. Probably more than half of the population has been infected. At the same time we continue to have dengue fever transmission; quite not so high, but it could increase in the next two weeks or more with rainy seasons.

Dr Mallet says a child died of dengue fever in November last year but no one has died from zika.

He says mosquito control, public health awareness and surveillance have kept the situation under control but vigilance is still needed.