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Department of Health Alert: Dengue V2 reemerging in the Pacific

Update on Dengue Outbreak - A report from SPC (Secretary of the Pacific Community) states the dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2) has been confirmed by US CDC reference labs to be the cause of the current outbreak of dengue fever in Yap.

The newly confirmed occurrence of dengue fever type 2 (DEN-2) in Yap must trigger an ALERT SIGNAL for all Pacific Islands and for specific countries on the rim of the Pacific where populations of mosquitoes potentially vector of dengue viruses (i.e. Ae. aegyti and Ae. Albopictus) are durably established.

The reemergence of DENV-2 and consecutive outbreak of DEN-2 in Yap is bad news and a serious threat to the region: this serotype hasn't been circulating in the Pacific since 1996-1999, except for sporadic cases in Yap and Palau in 2007.

For almost all Pacific Islands and neighbouring countries the coming months coincide with the hottest period of the year, and with the "rainy season". Both factors interplay considerable roles in allowing for increased vector density and longevity, the multiplication of breeding sites, the shortening of the virus extrinsic incubation cycle (in the mosquito).

The forthcoming months also coincide with the holiday season in the Pacific, hence an increased movement of people across the region at large. Dengue viruses do disseminate mainly through clinically incubating or viraemic persons, and the risk that DENV-2 takes advantage of the context to spread throughout the Pacific is HIGH.

The last dengue epidemic in American Samoa that was documented as DENV-2 was in 1972. Our last dengue fever outbreak was in 2008 with 856 cases. To date, 2011 we have had less than 20 confirmed cases.

The Public Health Department and LBJ Hospital wishes to advise the public to take prevention precautions using the 3 Ds to avoid the dengue virus:

1. DRAIN standing water around the house that may serve as mosquito breeding sites; this includes tires, buckets, old appliances, and ice cream containers.

2. DRESS protectively by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes while outdoors (the dengue mosquito is a day biting mosquito)

3. DEET - Use a mosquito repellant containing DEET on exposed skin.

For any more information please direct your enquiries to: 699-8680.

(Source: American Samoa Public Health Media Release, Public Health Emergency Preparedness- Disease Surveillance Division)



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