Update July 18: The death toll has risen to four according to news reports.

The American Samoa health department has declared that the number of dengue fever infections has reached a level where it is considered to be a epidemic.

Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on a human host/CDC
Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on a human host/CDC

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, epidemiologist Scott Anesi says the numbers have not reached the threshold for World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control standards to be declared an epidemic.

Despite not reaching the officials threshold, officials say the number of deaths, patient admission numbers as well as the number of severe cases, are enough to declare the outbreak an epidemic.

The number of suspected dengue cases has reached 122 in the past six weeks. Three deaths have been reported. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service reports 13 confirmed cases of DENV-3 infection.

“One out of every 3 people that goes into seek treatment gets admitted because they are in dire need of treatment, and of those that get admitted, we have a critical rate of 18 percent, so one in every five people that gets admitted develops the dengue hemorrhagic, so those numbers are very high and those are the parts of the population we are targeting”, Anesi noted.

The US Centers for Disease Control is sending a team to American Samoa to help with the dengue fever outbreak in the territory. They are expected next week.

Related news: 

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Chikungunya: With 2,500 confirmed cases, the ‘whole of Samoa’ affected 

CDC advises travelers to American Samoa about Chikungunya 

American Samoa reports amebiasis outbreak