26 dengue fever cases in four Cairns suburbs
DENGUE fever has spread to two more suburbs, taking the number of victims to 25 and forcing authorities to put the entire city on alert.
Parramatta Park and Manoora yesterday joined Whitfield and Mt Sheridan as outbreak areas, raising fears that residents who contracted the mosquito-transmitted virus during the 2008-09 outbreak could be at risk of being infected again.
Queensland Health is conducting tests to determine the source of the latest type-1 dengue cases.
"It means they either came from Whitfield or they were imported from somewhere else," public health physician Dr Richard Gair told The Weekend Post.
"We'll do a genetic comparison that will show whether they are related or not but from the point of view of what we do, it doesn't really matter.
"We need to contain this outbreak."
Cairns Regional Council workers have joined Queensland Health officers in efforts to wipe out breeding grounds of the mosquitoes that spread dengue the Aedis aegypti.
Council staff are able to enter unlocked private properties to inspect for breeding sites and spray.
"Residents are urged to comply with directions from council staff in relation to the elimination of mosquito breeding sites," a spokeswoman said.
"Fines can apply for failure to comply."
Edge Hill conservation worker Lisa O'Mara, one of about 1000 people struck down by dengue in the last outbreak, said residents should heed the advice of authorities because the disease was crippling.
"I was thinking I was going to die because I couldn't handle the pain," she said.
"I was in bed for one or two weeks non-stop and didn't feel good for about two months.
"The aches in my bones, it was incredible, and there were no drugs I could take that relieved the pain.
"Everybody should be taking all the precautions they are being told."
People infected for the second time are at risk of suffering the potentially fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever, or dengue shock syndrome. "It's a worry," she said.
"Even if our yard is clean, if we're near someone who's still holding that virus, it's a worry for me and my family."
Queensland Health will launch a mass media campaign urging residents to remove potential breeding areas from properties.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito prefers pools of clean water to breed and targets containers such as pot plants, tyres, palm fronds and buckets.
For more information call 1800 DENGUE (336 483) or visit health.qld.gov.au
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Nightmare ordeal: Edge Hill's Lisa O'Mara knows only too well how much suffering a mosquito bite can lead to. She's advising residents to take all the precautions they are being told to follow.