Dengue Fever Outbreak: Information Bulletin n° 1

The Situation

Since January 2013, approximately 1,970 suspected and confirmed dengue cases have been reported, resulting in three deaths. More than 1,800 of the cases have been reported in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, while the others are in the provinces of Guadalcanal and Gizo. There has been a steep increase in the hospitalization of dengue suspected cases in the aftermath of the earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck on 6 February. It is currently the rainy season in Solomon Islands, increasing the breeding sites of the Aedes mosquito which transmits the disease.

The trend in the bed-occupancy rate remains well over 95 per cent. Those with severe dengue requiring blood transfusion accounts for more than 20 per cent of the cases. The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MoHMS) has been working hard to respond to the outbreak since January. The MoHMS has enacted their emergency plans and requested the assistance of the national disaster management office (NDMO) to staff the hospital Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which is running 24/7.

Authorities in Solomon Islands say they have been unable to contain the spread of dengue fever with new cases reported throughout the country. There are serious concerns that a spread of the outbreak to the provinces will be very difficult to manage without further support. Following a request from the Solomon Islands Government, the governments of Australia and New Zealand have sent medical teams to the Solomon Islands to assist with the response.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the Australian Government has agreed to provide additional staff for the National Referral Hospital in Honiara and provincial hospitals. An initial assessment team was deployed to evaluate the situation, and an additional nine-person medical taskforce was subsequently deployed to work with local medical authorities and help control the outbreak. A senior AusAID response manager is leading the taskforce, which includes doctors, nurses and public health experts.