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Travellers to South Pacific warned of dengue fever

Travellers to South Pacific warned of dengue fever

New Zealand travellers to the South Pacific are being reminded to avoid being bitten by mosquitos after continued reports of a dengue fever in some countries there, The Ministry of Health said today.

"We're reminding people to take some common-sense precautions following the reports from several countries including Fiji and New Caledonia," said Dr Doug Lush, Senior Advisor Communicable Diseases.

"Local authorities in the affected countries are undertaking control programmes to limit the spread of disease. However there are also steps that visitors and tourists can take."

"The Ministry recommends choosing to stay in lodgings where there are screens on windows and doors, using insect sprays when indoors, and wearing repellent and protective clothing when outdoors," said Dr Lush.

Dengue fever is a serious viral disease spread by the bite of infected mosquitos. It is found in tropical regions worldwide, including the Pacific Islands.

Dengue fever is not transmitted in New Zealand because this country does not have the types of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, and since the virus is not transmitted from person to person, New Zealanders are only at risk when they travel to countries where dengue is a problem.

Dr Lush said New Zealanders returning from the South Pacific should seek medical advice if they think they show symptoms of dengue fever.

Dengue fever appears three to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. It's characterised by the sudden onset of a high fever, and an intense headache.

Symptoms may also include a skin rash, muscle and join pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. Serious bleeding can also occur, particularly after repeated exposure to the virus.

Anyone who is concerned or wants more information should contact their local Medical Officer of Health.

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