Arboviruses in season in New Caledonia: dengue, chikungunya and zika

ZikaVirusRashArm2014Newspaper reports, alerts and web articles are multiplying in number, almost as steadily as the subject of their reports. New Caledonia is seeing increasing cases of mosquito-born viruses, including dengue fever, chikungunya and the newly introduced zika virus. ‘Tis the season to empty all water-holding receptacles, don insect repellent, use fans to dissuade mosquitoes and sleep with mosquito nets when exposed to open windows, while camping, etc.

The dengue epidemic continues to rage

In New Caledonia between 1 September 2012 and 1 September 2013 , more than 11,000 cases of dengue were registered, including 5 deaths. Since 1 September 2013 , the number of cases has fallen due to the dry season. But despite a lack of rain this year, new cases have been identified, and the virus continues to circulate.

The zika virus was recently introduced

29 cases of the zika virus have recently been detected in travelers from French Polynesia where the epidemic is highest. But the first locally-transmitted cases have now been identified in and around Dumbea (2 cases). There is some concern among the medical community that we are on the verge of a new epidemic.

Other viruses threaten New Caledonia

Chikungunya recently reappeared in Noumea in 2013 from Asia, and other types of the dengue virus, not yet introduced in New Caledonia , are circulating in several other Pacific islands, including Vanuatu.

Similar symptoms, varying intensity

DengueThese diseases cause the following similar symptoms, but with varying intensity:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Rash of red or pink spots on the skin
  • Conjunctivitis

If you have one or more of the above symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately for testing. The test will be free if the doctor completes the DASS- NC form. You will also need to report the area you were in during the preceding 15 days (so authorities can track and work to eradicate the mosquitoes in the area).

All transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes

These disease-carrying mosquitoes live around houses and come to rest inside them. Their range is limited to a 100 meters or so. They reproduce by laying their eggs in receptacles containing stagnant water, usually from rain or irrigation. These eggs hatch larvae and grow adult mosquitoes in less than 2 weeks. Given their habitats and reproductive cycles, preventative measures could and should be taken.

The most common breeding sites are plant trays and buckets in gardens, clogged or broken gutters, empty cans/pots and tires in landfills, etc.

The recent return of rain will certainly mean more breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.

Preventative measures

RepelMosquitoesThere is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for these viral diseases. In this case, prevention really is the best medicine. Here is what is being suggested we do:

  • Systematically and regularly eliminate breeding sites around your home and work locations, which will have a direct impact on your long-term environment.
  • Protect yourself and your children/family from mosquito bites by applying insect repellents, using electronic or other (natural) mosquito repellents.
  • Consult a doctor in the case of the above-mentioned symptoms.

WARNING: Aerial spraying of insecticides is insufficient, because it only affects flying adult mosquitoes. It does not prevent the outbreak of new larvae in the hours that follow.

Related post: 150 contract dengue fever a day in New Caledonia


4 thoughts on “Arboviruses in season in New Caledonia: dengue, chikungunya and zika

  1. Thanks so much for this, Julie. I love being kept in the loop about the various goings-on in New Caledonia!

    Come mid February, I’m exhibiting some photographic work relating to political change in New Caledonia. I’m currently hoping to crowd-fund my exhibition which will take place as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

    I’d be most grateful if you could distribute through your various social networks the crowd funding website for this exhibition –

    Regrettably, there are only 9 days remaining in the campaign.

    I do hope you can assist just by sharing news of my campaign as broadly and as quickly as possible.

    Many thanks,

    Marc D Bowden

    On 27 January 2014 22:24, New Caledonia Today

  2. Pingback: Hienghène will spoil you for beauty | New Caledonia Today

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