NZers infected in Tonga Dengue out-break

New Zealand health authorities are warning people visiting Tonga of a Dengue fever out-break.

So far at least 23 New Zealanders have contracted the viral disease which is spread through infected mosquitoes. Auckland medical officer of health Dr Simon Baker said two of the people have had to be hospitalised.

"It's an ongoing outbreak in Tonga and people need to be cautious there," Dr Baker said.

He said the Dengue fever is a virus and there is no anti-viral care. "They get supportive care which means they get fluids if they get dehydrated and their progress is monitored because sometimes people bleed and they need platelets or blood," Dr Baker said.

He said the disease can be dangerous if a person gets the disease for the second time.

"That can be serious. About one in 20 people who get Dengue haemorrhagic fever actually die of it. They bleed internally and can't stop. It's particularly dangerous for children under 10," Dr Baker said.

Public health doctor Dr Doone Winnard said there are ways of avoiding Dengue fever. She said people can wear clothes that cover their entire bodies, use insect repellent containing deet and stay in rooms with screens on doors and windows.

She said having air conditioning is also useful.

Dr Winnard said the symptoms of Dengue fever are a sudden onset of high fever and a headache. She said sufferers may also get a rash and pain in their muscles and joints.

Dr Winnard said the symptoms usually start four to six days after being bitten and recovery can take weeks. She said anyone who has returned from Tonga with the symptoms should get medical advice.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also issued a travel warning to Tonga due to the Dengue Fever outbreak.


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