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Dengue surveillance by proxy: travellers as sentinels for outbreaks in the Pacific Islands


Sensitive surveillance systems are crucial for effective control of infectious disease outbreaks, and regional surveillance could provide valuable data to supplement global systems, improve sensitivity and timeliness of reporting, or capture otherwise undetected outbreaks. In New Zealand (NZ), there are no endemic arboviral diseases in humans, and the majority of dengue cases are imported from neighbouring Pacific Islands where comprehensive surveillance systems are under development. From 1997 to 2009, 679 cases of dengue were reported in NZ (74·2% acquired from the Pacific Islands), and the patterns of reported incidence of dengue acquired from different islands closely reflected local reported incidence in those areas. NZ is therefore in a unique position to provide early alerts on dengue outbreaks in the Pacific Islands. Such a strategy would reduce disease burden in both the Pacific Islands and NZ, and provide a model for transnational collaboration in disease surveillance with regional as well as global benefits.

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