Watch out for dengue, WHO reminds flood survivors

News release

Honiara, 16 April 2014- Residents of Honiara and other urban centres in the Solomon Islands should take steps to protect their families from dengue, WHO reminds the public today.

“Many survivors of the recent floods have moved into evacuation centres and they live in very dense and populated conditions, often in very open and basic living areas. The high levels of rainfall could potentially increase the dengue mosquito numbers and result in disease outbreaks,” says Ms Audrey Aumua, Officer-in-Charge of the WHO Representative Office in Solomon Islands.

From January to April 11 this year, there have been 638 cases of dengue in Solomon Islands, of which, 106 cases were reported this week. While case numbers are increasing, no outbreak has been reported to date.

As seen in the 2013 Solomon Islands dengue outbreak, this disease has the ability to move very quickly between households. The sooner that people act to help reduce mosquito breeding areas in their yard, and protect themselves from mosquito bites, the better they can help prevent the spread of dengue.

Current dengue mosquito control measures

The Disease Surveillance Unit and National Vector Borne Disease Control Program of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, in collaboration with WHO, is working closely with the Honiara City Council and Gaudalcanal Province vector control teams to provide ongoing mosquito control operations around the city and the plains.

These agencies are currently undertaking ultra-low volume (ULV) ‘fogging’ operations, targeting the adult dengue mosquitos at their peak biting time. Teams of vector control workers are visiting all areas of Honiara and applying an insecticidal ‘fog’ using a large vehicle mounted fogger that can treat one and a half hectares a minute. These control operations are being conducted between 5pm and 7pm, which is the peak activity time for the dengue mosquito. The fog is not harmful to humans, but will knockdown any adult mosquitoes in the area.

Eight of the larger evacuation centres in Honiara have had interior and exterior residual treatments of insecticide to protect against malaria and dengue vectors.

Additionally, more than 4,300 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLIN) have been distributed in evacuation centres in Honiara and Guadalcanal Province. Communities have been provided with information on dengue dengue home care.

“WHO is also working closely with the Disease Surveillance Unit to track dengue cases so that mosquito control teams can visit the houses and conduct mosquito control measures,” says Matthew Shortus, WHO entomologist and malaria scientist.

Matthew Shortus, WHO entomologist and malaria scientist, works with the Vector Borne Disease Control Program staff of Guadalcanal Province in the fogging operations in a community affected by floods.
Photo: WHO/Joy RC

Protecting yourself and your family from dengue

There are many steps people at home and at the evacuation centres can take to reduce their exposure to the dengue mosquito, and getting dengue fever.

  • Use mosquito repellent on your skin to prevent bites, especially if outside at the peak biting times between 4pm and 7pm.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts between 4pm and 7pm.
  • If sleeping during the day (especially babies) sleep under a mosquito net, as the dengue mosquito bites during the day.
  • Be aware that some dengue mosquitoes bite people during the day both inside and outside. They especially like to attack in cool, dark places, such as under shady trees.

There are also some things that you can do to prevent the dengue mosquito breeding around houses and evacuation centres.

  • Dengue mosquitoes lay their eggs in containers laying around the yard. Their favourite containers are old tires, drums, coconut shells and rubbish bins. These items should be discarded or burnt or put under cover so that the rain will not cause them to breed dengue mosquitoes.
  • When using drums and containers for storing drinking and washing water, people need to make sure they empty these containers at least once a week, to help prevent the dengue mosquito breeding inside them.

For more information, please contact,
Ms Joy Rivaca Caminade
Communications Officer in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Email: caminadej@wpro.who.int
Phone (Solomon Islands): +677-7690603

Ms Helen Yu
Communications Officer in Suva, Fiji
Email: yuji@wpro.who.int
Phone: +679 323 4136

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