Meningococcal disease outbreak

The Health ministry reports an outbreak of meningococcal diseases, its symptoms explained here. Picture: USA National Meningitis Association

Update: 10:27AM AN OUTBREAK of meningococcal diseases which affects the brain and can cause death has been reported by health authorities today.

According to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, up to 105 people had contracted the disease since 2016 and 14.4 per cent of them died as a result.

The Ministry of Health said the disease can cause infections in the lining of the brain (meningitis) and in the blood (meningococcemia), or both. These conditions are very serious and can be deadly, but can be treated if detected early. 

The government confirms that without appropriate medical treatment, up to half of those who get the disease may die.

“These conditions are very serious and can be deadly, but can be treated if detected early,” a government statement said. 

The bacteria is not easily transmitted but is spread via saliva from person to person which the health ministry explained can commonly occur when an infected person coughs or shares a mouth to mouth kiss with an uninfected person.

“Even with the recent increase in cases, meningococcal disease remains uncommon in Fiji. However, this disease has a high death rate,” the health ministry said.

“Most people who get the disease, and are treated appropriately, will recover fully, however 10-15 per cent will still die, and around 20 per cent will have permanent disabilities, including severe brain damage.” 

Cases of meningococcal disease in Fiji have consistently increased from 1-10 cases in total before 2016 to 29 cases in 2016, 48 in 2017 and as of February 21 there were already 18 cases reported in 2018.

More updates to follow

See the explanation in a diagram