Dengue Fever in New Caledonia

Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease that first appeared in the South Pacific in the 1970s. Signs are headaches, sore throat, pain in the joints, fever, chills, nausea, and rash. This painful illness also known as "breakbone fever" can last anywhere from five to 15 days. Although you can relieve the symptoms somewhat, the only real cure is to stay in bed, drink lots of water, and wait it out. Avoid aspirin as this can lead to complications. No vaccine exists, so just try to avoid getting bitten (the Aedes aegypti mosquito bites only during the day). Dengue fever can kill infants so extra care must be taken to protect them if an outbreak is in progress.

South Pacific countries which have experienced major dengue fever outbreaks in recent years include Fiji, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, and Easter Island. Now it's New Caledonia's turn with over 2,665 cases since the beginning of 2009. Around a hundred new cases are currently being reported each day. Ten percent require hospitalization and the territory's health services are overstressed. Thus far, only one person has died. During previous outbreaks around the Pacific, fumigations and clean-up campaigns eventually overcame the disease. Dengue fever is not a reason to defer travel to New Caledonia, but be aware.

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