THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Dengue serotype three reemerges in South Pacific

Dengue virus serotype three recently reemerged in the South Pacific after being absent for close to 20 years, the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Region said on Thursday.

The WHO anticipates that the numbers of dengue serotype three cases will continue to increase in the coming months in places like French Polynesia, Fiji and Kiribati. A large outbreak of dengue in Solomon Islands is currently winding down.

Health ministries in the affected areas are building community awareness around the prevention of dengue and refreshing the skills of medical personnel to identify and treat dengue. Through the Pacific Syndrome Surveillance System, affected countries are taking action on the fronts of surveillance, vector control and clinical care.

There are four serotypes of dengue, and while infection with one strain will provide lifetime protection against that serotype, it does not protect against the other three. It is not uncommon for dengue strains to reemerge in the Pacific after being absent for 15 to 20 years, because the proportion of susceptible individuals increases above a certain threshold.

Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease causes flu-like symptoms that last for two to seven days, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, pain behind the eyes, swollen glands and high fever.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment to treat dengue. The WHO recommends seeking medical care to help manage the disease. With supportive medical care, case fatality rates for dengue are lower than one percent.