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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Virus Affecting Thousands In PNG’s East New Britain
Chikungunya ‘widespread,’ but no deaths reported

By Abigail Apina

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 17, 2013) – In Papua New Guinea, more than 3,000 people in eight local level governments in East New Britain are afflicted Chikungunya.

Provincial administrator Akuila Tubal confirmed this in Kokopo yesterday.

Chikungunya is a viral illness that is transferred by infected Aedes mosquitoes and is related to other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever. Symptoms are the sudden onset of fever, chills, nausea, severe headache, vomiting and joint pains.

Tubal said Chikungunya had spread to most wards since last October. The suspect is a human carrier. He said this pattern supported a viremic spread pattern among families as it was affecting a large number of people.

Tubal said unlike the Chikungunya outbreak in West Sepik, which was confined to one area, the outbreak in East New Britain had been widespread, affecting many wards in the Gazelle Peninsula area within a short period.

"Fortunately, there is no fatality recorded," he said. However, he expressed concern that the Department of Health had delayed technical support for this emergency.

Tubal said a medical response coordination team was assembled last November and had conducted preliminary investigations.

Blood samples were collected and tested at the Nonga Base Hospital which ruled out rheumatic fever.

Tubal said 17 blood specimens were collected from case presentations that tested negative for malaria and were sent to the Institute of Medical Research for further laboratory tests and confirmation of the disease type.

He said two tests were carried out on the specimens for dengue fever and Chikungunya and the results released to the provincial administration yesterday showed that 13 blood specimens were positive for Chikungunya fever while four were negative for both fevers.

He said the four negatives showed they were from case presentations that were already treated and cured.

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