27 Mar 2014

Zika wanes in French Polynesia but likely to linger for years in region

7:19 pm on 27 March 2014

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says despite the zika virus now beginning to wane in French Polynesia the epidemic is likely to affect the region for up to five years.

A Public Health official at the SPC, Dr Yvan Souares, says more than 40,000 people contracted the illness in French Polynesia and some people suffered serious neurological complications but no one has died from the infection.

He says the mosquito borne virus has now spread to New Caledonia, the Cook Islands and Rapa Nui but all Pacific nations are vulnerable to outbreaks and the SPC is continuing to monitor the spread.

"Overall in French Polynesia the epidemic is now waning away. In New Caledonia the epidemic has now entered into a peaking mode. It is still far from reaching the peak. This will probably be the case in another ten to twelve weeks time."

Dr Souares says scientific data suggests the zika epidemic is likely to stay in the region for the next three to five years.