Fears of Cairns dengue epidemic
HEALTH officials fear an explosion of dengue fever is imminent in Cairns after a second incidence of the virus in an inner-city suburb.
Two confirmed cases of the mosquito-transmitted disease yesterday took the city's dengue tally to seven but doctors believe four pending cases will return positive.
A Whitfield woman has contracted the type-1 strain while two other people who live in the same household are suspected carriers.
Late yesterday, a Kewarra Beach man who had spent Christmas in the same Whitfield neighbourhood was confirmed as the latest victim.
Five cases of the type-3 strain already have been recorded at Mt Sheridan but Queensland Health public health physician Dr Richard Gair said the latest outbreak was from a new source.
"Each outbreak of dengue is caused by an imported case so the cases in Whitfield have come from a different imported case than Mt Sheridan," he said.
"'From our point of view, it confirms we've got two separate outbreaks.
"In Mt Sheridan, we've also got two strongly suspected new cases of dengue type 3, both in the same household."
The public health unit's Dengue Action Response Team has sprayed both suburbs to contain the outbreaks but the ease with which the disease is spread by the Aedis aegypti mosquito made it hard to contain.
"I'm concerned because prior to the recent rains we had higher numbers of mosquitoes," Dr Gair said.
"Now that we've had rains, we're going to get a lot more mosquitoes.
"It's quite early in the season. We've now got two separate outbreaks in two separate parts of Cairns.
"We need to be really vigilant.
"I'm concerned it could potentially spread to other suburbs."
He urged residents to see a doctor if they showed any dengue symptoms, no matter how mild, which included fever, lethargy, rash, nausea and headaches.
"We need to find out about new cases early," Dr Gair said.
"We urge GPs and hospital doctors to let us know about suspected cases early.
"What we have to realise is there will be some people with mild doses of the disease.
"They won't go and see a doctor because they don't realise they've got dengue but they're still capable of transmitting it to other people."
For more information about dengue fever and how to prevent it, call 1800 DENGUE (336483) or visit health.qld.gov.au
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.