Samoa on the brink of declaring a dengue outbreak

Photo: University of Sydney

Samoa is on the brink of declaring a dengue fever outbreak should the latest situational report from health expected by the end of the week show a continuous increase in the disease.

The Director General of Health, Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma said a situational report on dengue is issued weekly and the numbers show that it is going up. 

Speaking to the media, Aiono said Samoa is moving closer to declaring an outbreak and there is a possibility that by next week an outbreak of dengue will be declared. 

He pointed out this will depend on the figures made available on Friday to reaffirm if the viral infection has gone up or dropped. 

“About 80 people have been affected by dengue and it is going up,” said the Director General of Health. 

“No one has died from it, but the country needs to continue its protection measures and we are planning a national campaign to clean up and destroy breeding sites for mosquitos.”

The latest dengue situation report dated 18 March to 24 March 2024 shows 22 new lab-confirmed dengue cases recorded at the time adding up to 40 cases in March. 

The report noted the most affected age groups are those between five to nine years old and those over 60 years old. 

North West of Upolu and Apia urban area regions are reported to be the most affected area however some cases have been reported from all regions including Savaii. 

The Director General said there are 20 different definitions of outbreak, and they will monitor and look into what definition will apply in the event an outbreak of dengue is declared. 

He said from the situational reports there is a two-week period that the numbers show it meets the definition of an outbreak but will monitor if the numbers continue to climb an outbreak has to be declared. 

If someone has symptoms of dengue-like illness, Aiono said they have to present themselves to the hospital so they can undergo blood tests to confirm if they do have dengue. 

He said if a person is in a severe condition with dengue, they have to be transferred to the main hospital so they can get medical support needed such as oxygen. 

Those who only have a fever and are not serious can remain in the district facilities.  A public health alert on dengue fever has already been issued advising and encouraging clinicians to collect samples for testing for all patients presenting with dengue-like illnesses.