A New Zealand government Minister and a tourist have both called for more public information about a dengue outbreak in Samoa.
The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, told Radio New Zealand he wants more dengue warnings to reach travellers leaving from New Zealand and Australia.
The Ministry of Health says nearly 2500 people contracted the mosquito-borne disease in the last three months of last year, and five of them died of it.
Aupito William Sio, who is in Samoa, says that on his way there he didn’t notice much information for travellers about the disease.
“I’m not quite sure what the best way of getting the message out,” he said.
“But I suspect probably having messages at the airport before people leave and at the airport when people arrive, whether it be Samoa or any other part of the Pacific, would be very useful.”
A New Zealand tourist who has just returned from Samoa agrees that more needs to be done to keep people informed about the dangers of dengue.
Vao Muller said she learned about the outbreak prior to travelling and on arrival visited many popular tourist spots and villages.
Having contracted dengue before, she said she took precautions for her family including the use sprays and mosquito bracelets.
But Ms. Muller said she was shocked to see no warning signs at the airport or accommodation facilities.
She said there was also little in local media about the outbreak.
Ms. Muller said Samoans she met seemed quite blasé about dengue.
“I kind of expected that people there would be more aware of what was going on, but they weren’t.
“From the lack of information that was available over there, I would hope that they are taking it seriously, but from what we could see, there was no evidence of that,” she said.
New Zealand’s Auckland Regional Public Health Service said it had seen a rise in the number of dengue fever cases in recent months, 70 percent of which could be traced to Samoa.
The Ministry of Health issued an update about the state of dengue fever last week. This is what it said:
“The Ministry of Health has confirmed five deaths related to dengue as of 31 December 2017.
Dengue fever was declared an outbreak by the Ministry of Health in the last week of October 2017. Over the past 5 months, a total of 2,446 Dengue related cases - both clinical and confirmed dengue Serotype 2 has been recorded by the Ministry.
From these numbers, 51 percent (1,249 cases) are male with the remaining 49 percent (1,197cases) female. There have been cases throughout all age groups from 1 year old to 65 and over, however, the most affected age groups have been identified to be from 19 and below with the highest number of cases in children between 5 – 9 years old.
The Ministry of Health has also identified Dengue Fever Attack Rates by villages and some by districts naming the most affected areas to be Faleata, Vaimauga, Leauva’a, Anoama’a, Sagaga, Va’a o Fonoti and Lotofaga Aleipata.
The Ministry of Health confirms ongoing surveillance on monitoring the situation and is continuing to advocate and implement control measures for mosquito-borne diseases.
The Ministry urges the public to take special precautions with young children as well as visiting families from overseas.
The Ministry of Health continues to encourage the public especially the highly affected areas to reduce or remove all mosquito breeding sites during this rainy season.
Other usual preventative methods to avoid illness are also advised by the Ministry as well as urging the communities and organizations to continue to work with the Ministry of Health in combatting Dengue Fever.”