Killer disease alert

RAROTONGA – Cook Islands authorities are keeping a close eye on border control in the wake of an outbreak of life-threatening meningococcal disease in Fiji.

The Cook Islands has previously recorded cases of the disease, which affects the brain and can cause death.

In Fiji, up to 105 people had contracted the disease since 2016 and 14.4 per cent of them died as a result. As of February 21 this year, there were already 18 cases. No cases of meningococcal disease were recorded in the Cook Islands last year. However in 2016, two cases were reported, one each in 2014 and 2013, two in 2011 and three in 2010.

Given the number of travellers to and from Fiji, acting Community Health Services director Valentino Wichman said they were keeping a close watch at the airport and the port of Avatiu to ensure visitors and residents coming here from Fiji were cleared of meningococcal disease.