A deployment of french soldiers has been sent to the country’s caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Their task? Draining stagnant water – vital in the fight against a deadly outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever.
France’s health minister Roselyne Bachelot has also arrived in the region for a morale-boosting visit. Martinique’s governor should have been there to greet herbut he was himself in hospital, having contracted the disease.
At least 18 people have died from dengue fever since the beginning of February.
Since the epidemic began back in December there have been thousands of cases with Guadeloupe the worst affected.
Residents are being told to drain any places that could serve as mosquito breeding grounds. They are also being urged to use insect repellent and netting to protect themselves.
Martinique and Guadeloupe regularly experience epidemics like this, but they have become more frequent since 2005.
Meanwhile, in France, scientists are trying to come up with a vaccine. It is estimated that worldwide number of cases of dengue doubles every ten years.