19 Apr 2024

Samoa on the brink of declaring a dengue outbreak

9:53 am on 19 April 2024
Mosquito on human skin, computer illustration.

Photo: AFP / Sebastian Kaulitzki / Science Photo Library

Samoa's Director General of Health has warned the country is on the brink of declaring a dengue fever outbreak.

The Samoa Observer reported Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma told media on Thursday a situational report on dengue is issued weekly.

Aiono said there is a possibility that by next week an outbreak of dengue will be declared, but this will depend on the figures made available on Friday.

"About 80 people have been affected by dengue and it is going up," he said.

"No one has died from it, but the country needs to continue its protection measures, and we are planning a national campaign to clean up and destroy breeding sites for mosquitos."

The World Health Organisation describes denge fever as a viral infection that spreads from mosquitoes to people.

It said most people who get dengue won't have symptoms, but for those that do, "the most common symptoms are high fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash".

Samoa's last dengue situation report dated March 18 - 24 showed 22 new lab-confirmed dengue cases recorded at the time, adding up to 40 cases in March.

The report noted the most affected age groups are those between 5-9 years old and those over 60.

Aiono said the ministry is planning a campaign to clean up and destroy breeding sites for mosquitos.

Northwest of Upolu and Apia urban area regions are reported to be the most affected, but some cases have been reported from all regions including Savai'i.

Aiono said there are 20 different definitions of outbreak and they will monitor and look into what definition will apply in the event an outbreak of dengue is declared.

He said from the situational reports, there is a two-week period that the numbers show it meets the definition of an outbreak, but will monitor if the numbers continue to climb an outbreak has to be declared.

If someone has symptoms of dengue-like illness, Aiono said they have to present themselves to the hospital so they can undergo blood tests to confirm if they do have dengue.

A public health alert on dengue fever has already been issued advising and encouraging clinicians to collect samples for testing for all patients presenting with dengue-like illnesses.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs