Pacific officials concerned about epidemics transmitted by mosquitoes

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community Noumea, New Caledonia, said on Thursday that the first locally-acquired case of Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, represents an epidemic threat to New Caledonia and the Pacific region.

"We are concerned about the increase in the frequency and variety of epidemics of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in the region over the years," Deputy Director of the Public Health Division Yvan Souarès said. "They threaten more and more the health security of the Pacific populations and the world."

Four types of dengue fever infected the region for the first time in 2012. In 2013, 11 dengue epidemics of three serotypes, three chikungunya epidemics and one Zika virus epidemic were recorded.

The Zika virus was first recorded in the Pacific Federated States of Micronesia in 2007. It resurfaced in French Polynesia in 2013, and is now in New Caledonia.

'Though the Zika virus is known for widely circulating in Africa and Asia, the Pacific is the only region in the world to have a documented epidemic of this virus,' Souarès said.

Souarès said infected mosquitoes spread quickly with air traffic and weather variations, including rising temperatures and modified rainfall patterns.