Doctors sent to fight Solomon Islands dengue outbreak

By Paul Hemsley

Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr has sent a team of nine medical staff to the Solomon Islands to help the local medical authorities control an outbreak of dengue fever to ease concerns of the risk of a spread to the provinces.

The dengue fever outbreak began sweeping through the Islands in January 2013, prompting a call from the Solomon Islands government seeking help from the Australian government, which has sent a team of medical staff to the National Referral Hospital in Honiara.

Dengue is a tropical infection that is usually transmitted to humans through mosquito bites with symptoms ranging from a mild fever to a potentially life threatening blood-related illness. It has previously been found in Northern Australia, with the Solomon Islands being almost 2000 kilometres from the Australian mainland.

The illness has so far infected 1975 people, with an additional 276 reported cases during the previous week. The Australian government has reported that three deaths have been tallied as a result of the sickness.

Senator Carr said an initial assessment team was deployed to the Solomon Islands to evaluate the situation, followed by an additional nine person medical taskforce.

The taskforce has included doctors, nurses and public health experts led by a senior AusAID response manager to support local medical staff and treating patients.

The federal government has held another 10 person medical taskforce on standby to deploy at short notice if the situation needs it.

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