- by breakdengue

Natural disasters led to increase in dengue in Solomon Islands

Flash floods across the Solomon Islands – an island nation that is home to around 600,000 people – led to a score of deaths, and thousands of islanders being displaced in April 2014. But homelessness is not the government’s only concern: the number of dengue cases has risen sharply. Dr. Lester Ross, the Solomon Islands’ Permanent Health Secretary reported that the last week of April alone had seen 163 new cases of dengue. Salomon So why is dengue on the rise? It’s because evacuation camps are the perfect location for dengue to thrive. Overcrowded living conditions with less than ideal sewage and water systems provide dengue-carrying mosquitoes with plenty of choices of egg-laying sites. And the Solomon Islands’ geographical isolation further complicates international aid efforts. The reemergence of dengue fever in the Solomon Islands will come as a blow to public health authorities: while cases of dengue were reported in 2002 and in 2013, the government has had a relatively good track record of dealing with outbreaks. According to the WHO, because malaria is already endemic in the Islands, residents are well aware of the dangers of vector-borne diseases. However, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and dengue-carrying mosquitoes have different preferences for breeding sites, so the WHO’s efforts are focused on raising awareness of this difference. But good practices are much more difficult to apply in temporary living conditions. Sadly these floods have illustrated that the challenges of tackling dengue multiply when people are forced into extreme living conditions.