Marshall Islands declare state of health emergency as dengue cases rise

The Republic of Marshall Islands has issued a proclamation to declare a state of health emergency after an influx in cases of dengue fever were reported. The Declaration called on all relevant Ministries of her Government to take proactive action to create awareness and preventative measures to ensure containment of cases across the islands.

Emergency services working together to minimize breeding grounds of mosquitoes. [RMI Red Cross]
The President declared the establishment of the Health Emergency Operation Center at the Ministry of Health and Human Services to coordinate Government efforts.

According to the RMI Ministry of Health, 64 cases were reported in Ebeye with one confirmed positive by the Hawaii State Laboratory. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. It is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito and symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. In some cases, it can be fatal.

RMI is one of several Pacific island countries who have declared an outbreak of dengue in the past five years. Samoa had an outbreak between August 2017 and March 2018 – where over 3000 cases were reported through the National Health Services.

Experts have warned that the incidences will get worse and outbreaks will become more frequent.

According to Joacim Rocklöv and Yesim Tozan in their research on climate change the rising infectiousness of dengue –  rising temperatures and other projected changes in climatic conditions are predicted to affect the distribution and competence of these Aedes (and other mosquito) species as a vector and have a potentially significant impact on the epidemiology of dengue (and other vector-borne diseases) globally.

“The global expansion of dengue follows the global spread of its mosquito vectors. Climatic conditions, particularly temperature, constrain the geographical distribution and expansion of Aedes mosquitoes. Furthermore, temperature and precipitation strongly affect mosquito development and population dynamics,” they wrote.


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