Hopes new app will help Pacific nations battling dengue fever

A new phone app which will help control mosquito-borne diseases is being offered to pacific countries battling dengue fever.

US specialists are in Auckland meeting with regional health leaders who are desperate to address the rapidly increasing number of cases.

Dr Michael Callahan, a US physician-scientist, says the rise in mosquito-borne diseases is due to climate change as they have longer seasons to transfer the virus.

In Samoa five people have died and there’s been more than 1700 cases in a current dengue outbreak.

Other countries around the region are also either battling the disease or trying to keep it at bay.

That’s why new digital tools at the Tech Camp conference, funded by the US Embassy, has attracted much interest from pacific participants.

The free Epi Info Vector Surveillance app has been a hit as workers in the field enter mosquito data on phones or tablets and once it hits wifi that data is sent to the cloud to be instantly analysed.

This eliminates lengthy delays and quick decisions can be made on which areas are priority for mosquito elimination.

Dr Rebecca Levine from the US Centre for Disease Control which designed and tested the app says its already being used in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

“We get nothing out of it, we just want it to be useful for communities and the people using it,” she said.

While New Zealand is free of dengue, sixty seven people have returned from overseas with it to Auckland this month – already more than half of all last year’s cases.

Border health security has stepped up at Auckland airport after two dengue fever mosquitos and larvae were discovered last month – however nothing further has since been found.

US specialists are in Auckland meeting with pacific health leaders desperate to eliminate the rapidly increasing number of cases. Source: 1 NEWS