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Dengue Fever warning to travellers

Dengue Fever warning to travellers heading to South Pacific

Media Release

13 July 2001

Dengue Fever warning to travellers heading to South Pacific

THE Ministry of Health is warning travellers to the South Pacific to avoid mosquito bites after eight recent cases of dengue fever were confirmed in New Zealand.

The eight people in New Zealand found to have dengue fever had recently travelled to Pacific locations including Samoa.

Last year, there were seven notified cases of dengue fever in New Zealand. So far this year there have been 10 notifications of dengue fever - eight of them during June and July.

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 type of mosquito that carries dengue fever.

Public Health Programmes Senior Advisor Dr Doug Lush said people travelling to South Pacific islands should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

"Mosquitoes are often most active at dawn, around late afternoon and just after dusk. We recommend people choose to stay in lodgings where there are screens on windows and doors, use insect sprays when indoors, and wear repellent and protective clothing when outdoors".

"You can't catch dengue fever from other people. New Zealanders are only at risk when they travel to countries where dengue fever is endemic".

Dengue fever will appear three to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and is characterised by the sudden onset of high fever and intense headache. Symptoms may also include a skin rash, muscle and joint pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. Uncontrolled bleeding can occur particularly after repeated exposure to the virus. The disease's worst form, dengue haemorrhagic fever, can be fatal.

"People who are travelling to Pacific countries should avoid contact with mosquitoes, while those who think they have symptoms should see a doctor."

ENDS

For more information contact Hayley Brock, Media Advisor (04) 496 2115, 025 495 989


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