The Fono

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Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Outbreaks of endemic mosquito-borne illnesses are common in the tropical and sub-tropical climates of many Pacific Islands, and these illnesses can affect travellers to the islands.

In early 2014, there was an increase of confirmed cases of the chikungunya virus, dengue fever and zika virus infections in many Pacific nations including the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tonga and Vanuatu.

If you are travelling and feel unwell during your trip or in the first two weeks after your return, you are advised to seek immediate medical advice at The Fono, and tell your GP about your travel.

Dengue fever, chikungunya virus and zika virus are spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito and cannot be spread directly from person to person. The Aedes mosquitoes which spread these viruses are not normally found in New Zealand.

Dengue fever is a serious viral disease. Symptoms of dengue fever include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash and mild nose bleeds.

Chikungunya virus is a febrile viral illness and symptoms include fever, severe joint and muscle pain, headache and a rash. The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. There is no cure for the disease and treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

Zika virus infection is a more mild febrile illness. Symptoms of zika virus include mild fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and a rash. After the bite of an infected mosquito, onset of illness occurs usually between four and eight days but can range from two to 12 days.

Find out more

For those about to travel, it is worth checking out the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network’s resource. It shows epidemic and emerging disease alerts in the Pacific region, so travellers can take necessary precautions before heading abroad.

Click here

Mosquito-borne diseases