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Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2013

Chikungunya outbreak in Papua New Guinea

A chikungunya outbreak was first detected in Papua New Guinea in June 2012 in Vanimo. Since then, cases spread to East New Britain province, New Ireland, Morobe, Eastern Highlands, West New Britain, Madang, Chimbu, National Capital District, Jiwaka and Manus provinces. It is also suspected to have occurred in Oro and Southern Highlands provinces, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

The WHO has announced that it is working with the Government of Papua New Guinea and other stakeholders to control an outbreak of chikungunya in the Pacific country.

“We must do more to put chikungunya back in its box,” says WHO Representative in Papua New Guinea Dr William Adu-Krow. “It’s bad enough that the country already struggles with isolated cases of dengue. The presence of another mosquito-borne viral disease is putting the welfare of many others at grave risk.”

WHO has supported the Papua New Guinea National Department of Health to develop and distribute fact sheets and other health materials about chikungunya and dengue, advising the public on appropriate care, on reducing the risk of mosquito bites and on eliminating mosquito breeding sites.

It has also assisted health authorities to develop clinical management guidelines for distribution to all provinces.

WHO has funded an entomology study in Vanimo, the capital of Sandaun province, to determine which species of mosquito—Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus—is involved in the outbreak. WHO developed a diagnostic protocol for suspected chikungunya and dengue cases and procured dengue rapid tests.

A WHO epidemiologist and a technical officer have provided clinical management seminars in a variety of clinical settings and have appeared on radio and television to promote awareness of chikungunya and dengue.

The first two cases in the capital of Port Moresby were confirmed on 17 April 2013 by the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research. Since then, hundreds of suspected cases have been detected in the Port Moresby area.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Chikungunya fever is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., joint swelling), laboratorytesting, and the possibility of exposure to infected mosquitoes.

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya fever; care is based on symptoms. Chikungunya fever is not usually fatal.

Steps to prevent infection with chikungunya virus include use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and staying in areas with screens.

Chikungunya virus was first isolated from the blood of a febrile patient in Tanzania in 1953, and has since been cited as the cause of numerous human epidemics in many areas of Africa and Asia and most recently in limited areas of Europe.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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