12 dead by disease

Meningococcal disease as explained by the World Health Organisation. Picture: WHO

Meningococcal disease as explained by the World Health Organisation. Picture: WHO

Update: 2:43PM TWELVE people have died from Meningococcal diseases and the number may increase in the following weeks as health authorities complete investigations into deaths suspected to be from the disease.

The health ministry’s national advisor on communicable diseases, Dr Aalisha SahuKhan said authorities had noticed dramatic increase in cases.

“We are telling everybody because we need everybody to be alert and be highly suspicious of the signs and symptoms of the disease because it’s a very serious disease once you get it,” Dr. SahuKhan said.

“There is a very high rate of death not just in Fiji but everywhere in the world, even in developed countries like Australia, the death rate is still 8-10 per cent even when someone is treated appropriately.”

So far, the 12 deaths account for surveillance from 2016 to February of 2018, Dr. SahuKhan said.

Dr SahuKhan said death rate can go up to 50 per cent if patients are not treated appropriately and added most deaths occur in the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.

“Someone can be well one day and the next day they’re gone if they don’t get treated quick enough,” she said.

Authorities declared an infectious disease outbreak this morning and set in place nationwide action for the Meningococcal Disease Taskforce aimed at strengthening the ministry’s early detection protocols.

An outbreak response team at the four divisional hospitals nationwide is now working to test suspected cases to quicken the urgent treatment of patients suspected to have meningococcal disease.

Health authorities emphasise the public need to be aware, alert and go to the nearest health facility as soon as possible if they have any of symptoms.

The World Health Organisations description of the symptoms are as below:

Most common symptoms:

  • stiff neck, 
  • high fever, 
  • sensitivity to light, 
  • confusion, 
  • headaches 
  • vomiting. 

In addition in infants:

  • bulging fontanelle
  • limp body