It's 'dengue season' in Solomon Islands and people should take action to minimize their risk of getting dengue fever.

Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that is transmitted through the bite of the dengue mosquito.

"Mosquitos lay their eggs in and around water. The recent increase in rain in Solomon Islands means that there are more dengue mosquitos, increasing the risk of dengue transmission," said World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Solomon Islands Dr. Audrey Aumua.

Dengue can affect people of all ages. Symptoms include a high fever with a severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. These usually occur after 4–10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito and last for 2–7 days.

There is no vaccine or any specific medicine to treat dengue, but people can take steps to protect themselves and their families from the dengue mosquito. Insect repellent, mosquito nets and wearing long sleeves and pants can prevent mosquitoes bites. Throwing away or emptying the water from containers lying around gardens can prevent mosquitos laying their eggs around houses.

"The sooner that people act to help reduce mosquito breeding areas in their gardens and protect themselves from mosquito bites, the better they can help prevent the spread of dengue," said WHO Entomologist Mr. Matthew Shortus.

The Disease Surveillance Unit and National Vector Borne Disease Control Program of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) are working with WHO to identify the emergence of any dengue-like cases in Solomon Islands so that an appropriate response can be made to strengthen health services as well as to reduce mosquito populations.

No outbreak has been declared in Solomon Islands at this stage, but several suspected cases have been reported to the MHMS Surveillance Unit. There were, however, dengue outbreaks during the wet seasons of both 2013 and 2014.

People who have dengue fever should rest, drink plenty of fluids, reduce the fever using paracetamol and visit their health clinic if symptoms worsen.

How to protect yourself and your family from dengue:

Prevent the dengue mosquito from biting you:
• Use mosquito repellent on your skin, especially if outside at peak biting times, which are early morning (around sunrise) and late afternoon to early evening (4-7pm).
• Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts, especially during peak biting times.
• Sleep under a mosquito net if sleeping during the day (especially babies), as this is when the dengue mosquito bites.
• Some dengue mosquitoes bite during the day both inside and outside. They like to attack in cool, dark places, such as under shady trees.

Prevent the dengue mosquito breeding around your house:

• Dengue mosquitoes lay their eggs in containers lying around the garden. Their favourite containers are old tyres, drums, coconut shells and rubbish bins. These items should be thrown out or burnt, or put undercover so that the rain will not cause them to fill with water and breed dengue mosquitoes.
• When using drums and containers for storing drinking and washing water, make sure they are well covered with a sealed lid and emptied and scrubbed clean (to remove mosquito eggs) at least once a week to help prevent the dengue mosquito breeding inside them.

Press Release: MHMS