Marianas Variety

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    Tuesday, September 17, 2019-6:25:05P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Regional News

Dengue outbreak expands in Marshalls, health emergency extended

MAJURO — The number of suspected and confirmed dengue fever cases more than doubled in Majuro in seven days’ time this past week, according to the Ministry of Health and Human Services latest update issued Monday.

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The Marshall Islands Red Cross Society has been active in both Majuro and Ebeye with cleaning around the islands and distributing mosquito nets to people in need.  Photo by  Roger Muller
Cleanups all around Majuro have been ongoing by people in the community to clear mosquito breeding areas.  Photo by Hansen Kaisha

A total of 57 cases were reported in Majuro through September 1. By September 8, the latest available situation report, the number had skyrocketed to 124. Meanwhile, numbers in Ebeye Island slowed last week, with only nine new cases being reported, bringing the Ebeye total to 228.

Responding to the continuing dengue outbreak, Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine extended the State of Health Emergency for another month. She signed a Cabinet Minute approving a 31-day extension of the health emergency declaration that was originally put into place August 6. This allows the Ministry of Health and Human Services to maintain its passenger travel ban to the outer islands to limit the spread of dengue to remote islands where health care services are limited.

There have been no reported cases of dengue outside of Majuro and Ebeye.

“It’s not rising sea levels that is our greatest immediate threat, it’s diseases,” Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal told U.S. government officials last week meeting in Honolulu for annual Compact of Free Association budget meetings.

This year, the Marshall Islands saw its worst outbreak of rotavirus causing widespread diarrhea, whooping cough, typhoid, and dengue fever, he said. “This is the new normal,” Niedenthal said.

The extended emergency health declaration reaffirmed that “it is extremely important to halt the spread of dengue virus to the outer islands” because of limited health care services available.

Government vector teams have been active around Majuro, spraying schools, community areas, people’s homes and government offices for mosquitoes. Large-scale cleanups have been ongoing in Majuro since late August to remove mosquito breeding locations.

The outbreak in Majuro is dengue Type-3, the same that is affecting Palau, Yap, Guam and the Philippines.