Samoa Ministry of Health Declares Dengue Fever Outbreak

“It is confirmed that we have an outbreak of dengue fever in our country. All criteria’s that define an outbreak is met,”

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Director General of Ministry of Health Samoa Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma during the press conference. Photo: Rodney Tafeaga, SGN.

By: Jasmine Netzler-Iose, Press Secretariat. Director General of the Ministry of Health, Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma has declared Samoa is experiencing an outbreak of dengue fever.

The revelation was made by Aiono in a press conference with the local media late Friday afternoon at the Ministry of Health Headquarters in Motootua.

“It is confirmed that we have an outbreak of dengue fever in our country. All criteria’s that define an outbreak is met,” he said.

According to Aiono, Cabinet has already been approached and approval given for declaring an outbreak of dengue fever.

The outbreak has been declared on a total of 216 cases confirmed by the ministry over the 5 months from November 2023 to 14 April, 2024.

Just at the first few weeks of April this year recorded number of dengue fever confirmed cases by MOH had increased by 81 patients.

The majority of patients are from Upolu with cases also recorded in Savaii.

Aiono says the 200 plus cases over five months are just those who have come to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment and have been confirmed infected following blood tests that are done here in Samoa.

“There might be other people but are unware they are infected as they think they might just have the flu.”

These people have not come into the hospital for diagnosis nor treatment.

It is important to keep in mind that from the 216 cases these also include patients that have already been discharged from the hospital.

Destroying mosquito breeding sites 

The Ministry of Health’s strategy says Aiono is a ‘National Cleaning Campaign’ that will be executed starting next week to cut down on the number of the infected by destroying mosquito breeding sites.

“It is a job that cannot just be done by the Ministry, it requires the assistance of other ministries to come on board, such as the Ministry of Women (MWCSD) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE).”

Cleaning will be carried out mostly in the North West part of Upolu where the Director General confirms is where the majority of the infected are from.

Fumigation Campaign 

The next activity is the fumigation campaign that will involve spraying of schools and hospitals to rid of mosquitoes.

According to Aiono the Ministry is giving this campaign two weeks and if by then the number of the cases has not reduced then a new strategy will have to be taken into consideration.

And that would be to double the efforts as well introduce inspections to villages to fumigate areas where mosquitos are prone to be found.

Dengue Fever commonly affects people that live in places that are tropical, hot and humid says Aiono.

In 2017 Samoa declared the first outbreak of Dengue Fever, with more than 1000 infected and less than 5 confirmed deaths.

Symptoms include; fever which is the most common, headaches, sore eyes and joint and muscle pain, loss of appetite, and vomiting.

Most vulnerable age groups and is confirmed by those already infected many already treated and discharged from hospital are those 9 years and below, 60 years and older and those who are suffering from health complications who can easily get infected.

According to Aiono several requests have already come through the Ministry for their fumigation services including; Mapuifagalele the home for the elderly, several businesses, and Samoa Victim Support Group.

Aiono is urging the community to refrain from taking aspirin to treat symptoms as it might lead to further medical complications such as blood clotting.

District councils are also been urged to pull together and work with the Ministry staff to ensure all hands are on deck to successfully implement the campaign.

Director General of Ministry of Health Samoa Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma during the press conference. Photo: Rodney Tafeaga, SGN.