The dengue fever outbreak in the Far North of Australia has been dubbed the worst ever. As many as 500 cases were reported in just three months, four times quicker than the previous record outbreak of 498 cases.
In more worrying news for health authorities, Innisfail's first case of locally acquired dengue fever was detected yesterday with more expected throughout the weekend.
The Innisfail strain of type 4 dengue fever signifies the first time on record that all four sub-types of the disease have been circulating in the Far North at the same time.
Cairns is dealing with type 2 and 3 dengue fever, Townsville with type 1 and 3 and Innisfail with type 4. Port Douglas, Injinoo and Yarrabah have all recorded cases of type 3 dengue fever.
Public health medical officer Frank Beard said Queensland Health suspected the new strain was brought to Innisfail by a traveller from Vanuatu and was expecting to diagnose more cases in the near future, Carins.com reported.
Dr Beard said control efforts were under way at Innisfail but admitted the speed of the spread was worrying.
"Our main concern is still the outbreak in Cairns, which is now over 500 cases, which is the highest on record," he said.
"That's over a period of three months, compared with previous outbreaks of 14 months duration."
He said the rapid spread of the disease was "a first for us, we haven't seen anything quite like this".
Authorities fear dengue may become endemic to the Far North if it continues through winter and into next year's wet season, Henry Tuttiett reported for Cairns Post.