Dengue has been confirmed as the cause of death of a 12 year old Tongan-Auckland girl last week.
Medical authorities have confirmed that there have been 19 other cases of the disease,
which is also known as break-bone fever.
Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola, CEO of Tonga’s Ministry of Health, told Kaniva News today the influx of
returning students and visitors to Tonga during the Christmas Holidays had brought in a
large pool of dengue viruses which caused the outbreak.
Toafei Telefoni from New Zealand died in Vaiola hospital on last Tuesday, January 24.
She had been due to return home tomorrow Tuesday, January 30.
Dr ‘Akau’ola said the girl had presented with what he described as “an acute febrile illness.”
Hospital staff initially thought it was a form of flu, but her condition deteriorated rapidly and showed signs of what he called “dengue shock syndrome.”
Blood tests pointed to dengue and a sample had been sent to New Zealand for further
testing and serotyping.
Dr ‘Akau’ola offered his condolences to Telefoni‘s family.
The CEO said most of the other dengue cases had recovered and others were in a stable
condition and expected to recover fully.
He said people were being urged to use insect repellents and mosquito nets to keep the
The Ministry had also told people how to destroy breeding sites of mosquitoes near homes
to stop them spreading the disease.
Indications of the disease included fever associated with vomiting, abdominal pain,
bleeding and inability to take in oral fluid. If these symptoms were present patients needed
to be supplied with plenty of fluid to stop them going into shock.
“There were a few cases of dengue in Tonga in December 2017, but they were clearly
imported cases so the focus then was to contain any outbreak from them,” Dr Akau’ola said.
“We thought we were successful since we had taken similar action throughout 2017 when
sporadic import cases of dengue came into the country from other Pacific Island countries.”
Tonga suffered a major dengue outbreak in 2015 when, Kaniva News reported, there were
33 confirmed cases.
Meanwhile, Tonga has been represented at a workshop in Auckland which looked at new
technology that can be used to track mosquito borne diseases.
The workshop, organised by the US consulate, featured a number of items which have been
successfully been used in the Caribbean.
The CEO of the Zika Foundation, Dr Michael Callaghan, who spoke at the workshop, said
dengue was more terrifying than malaria.
It’s a terrible disease that really hits communities at several levels more than just any
terrible painful disease,” he said.
Dengue is being closely monitored in several Pacific states.
An outbreak of dengue late last year killed five people in Samoa and infected 2500 others.