Call for travel warning on dengue in Tonga and plea for New Zealand help

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Last week about 33 people have contracted dengue fever in Tonga and the Ministry of Health has launched a national campaign to control the disease

A relative of Toafei Telefoni, who died of dengue in Tonga, said yesterday he was concerned that there was no New Zealand travel warning about dengue for people travelling to Tonga.

He said the family believed the outbreak of dengue was serious and that New Zealand should offer its help.

John  McCaffery is an uncle of Toafei Telefoni, who died in Vaiola hospital on January 24.

“Tonga apparently  still has no laboratory facilities to do the required blood tests for dengue especially the close monitoring needed to know if the virus is going to advance to the critical life threatening stage,” McCafferey said.

He said nobody at the funeral knew that the dengue carrying mosquito, Aedes aegypti, almost always bit in daytime and was most active in the two to three hours after sunrise and the two to three hours before sunset.

He said a relative who had been in Tonga had flown himself back to Auckland after being diagnosed with dengue after a private blood test and had gone to Auckland hospital for assistance.

He also claimed that the daughter of a Tongan family in the UK had been diagnosed with dengue and when she arrived in London she collapsed bleeding from the nose and mouth at customs.

Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death.

Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied by two of the following symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever.

There are four types of dengue.

For severe dengue, care by medical staff  experienced with the effects and progression of the disease can save lives, decreasing mortality rates from more than 20% to less than one percent.

The main points

  • A relative of Toafei Telefoni, who died of dengue in Tonga, said yesterday he was concerned that there was no New Zealand travel warning about dengue for people travelling to Tonga.
  • He said the family believed the outbreak of dengue was serious and that New Zealand should offer its help.
  • Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death.

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