Marshall Islands issues state of emergency over dengue

5:36 pm on 12 August 2019

Dengue fever has struck Ebeye Island in the Marshall Islands, triggering a state of emergency.

There are nine confirmed cases and over 103 people presenting with symptoms of the mosquito borne illness.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Jack Niedenthal, said the situation is currently contained to Ebeye but days of heavy rain has the rest of the nation on high alert.

The government issued a state of emergency last week and there are travel restrictions in place with boats being turned away from the island.

"This is only on Ebeye right now. But people there, I'm really proud to be part of this Ministry and how we've reacted to that and how the Kwajalein Atoll local government has reacted to this issue."

"We haven't had any deaths yet and we seem to have the situation under control. Our hospital is packed. And we're actually trying to hurry up and build actually extra quarters so people can be quarantined.

Mr Niedenthal said the concern is the current strain of dengue type 3 is different to the previous outbreak in 2011, which increases the health risks for those who contract the illness a second time.

He said there is a major awareness campaign underway advising precautions to take to limit exposure to mosquitoes and highlighting symptoms to look out for including severe headache and high fever.

He said the Marshall Islands is gratefully receiving help from the Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation to try to contain the outbreak.

As of Friday there have been nine confirmed cases of dengue type 3 and no deaths but with a shortage of test kits clinicians says there are also 103 cases with similar symptoms to the confirmed cases.