Deadly disease

HOSPITALS in the country are prepared to deal with patients diagnosed with the life-threatening meningococcal disease.

That’s the assurance from the Health Ministry after the announcement that the country is faced with an outbreak of the disease.

A statement from the Ministry of Health stated that over recent years, Fiji has had an increase in cases of meningococcal disease.

The statement stated that prior to 2016, there were 1-10 cases per year reported. In 2016, there were 29 cases, and in 2017, there were 48 cases. In 2018, there have been 18 cases as of February 21.

And the national adviser communicable diseases Dr Aalisha Sahukhan has confirmed that from 2016 to 2017 until February this year, there have been 12 deaths.

However, this figure is still yet to be finalised as the MOH investigates other suspected death cases.

“There are other deaths that we are trying to clarify whether they are actually confirmed cases or not, but there are more,” she said.

Ms Sahukhan stressed the need for members of the public to be aware and alert and present themselves to their nearest health centres if they detected symptoms of the deadly disease.

“We are telling everybody because we need everybody to be alert and very suspicious of the signs and symptoms of the disease because it is a very serious disease. Once you get it there is a very high rate of death with this disease.

“Most deaths occur in the first 24 hours. Once you have symptoms someone can be well in one day and the next day they’re gone if they don’t get treated quick enough.”

She said early treatment, which was antibiotic, was only administered within health facilities.

“There are enough antibiotics in the government facility. We are all working together to ensure that supplies are out there in the division.

“What we have emphasised with our medical officers is early transfer to divisional hospitals because people who have meningococcal disease need to be managed in a big divisional hospital.”

Ms Sahukhan said all information would be released to the Ministry of Education as well as boarding schools because they were a particular high-risk group.

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