19 Dec 2014

Chikungunya epidemic explosive in Pacific

4:16 pm on 19 December 2014

Nine people are now reported to have died from chikungunya in French Polynesia in an outbreak which is estimated to have affected about 40,000 people.

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Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel

The World Health Organisation says the epidemic has hit several countries and is being described as explosive in its development.

Samoan health authorities say there have been 3135 cases since the end of July and New Caledonia has 30 confimed cases with two hospitalisations and no deaths.

The WHO says the chikungunya outbreak is also still ongoing in American Samoa, and Tokelau.

Tonga's Director of Health says an outbreak of chikungunya in April that infected about 10,000 people throughout Tonga started in Ha'apai after assistance arrived for victims of Cyclone Ian.

He believes the virus was brought there by foreign visitors.