High rate of Men-C

THE number of cases in Fiji for meningococcal C is higher than the global average rates and as such, is a serious event, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Responding to queries from this newspaper, WHO said Fiji needed a comprehensive approach to the public health management of the disease.

The Ministry of Health issued a statement yesterday confirming 20 cases and 18 suspected cases from January 1 until March 29 this year. WHO said this was above the global average attack rates of around 0.3 to 3 cases per 100,000 population

WHO said Fiji needed to increase its surveillance of the disease to detect new cases, ensuring there was increased awareness and consistent approach to the management of cases, laboratory testing of suspected cases and investigation of suspected and confirmed cases.

“There is also the need to strengthen the community’s awareness of the disease and what actions they should take to prevent getting sick,” WHO said.

WHO said the use of conjugate vaccines for risk groups should also be considered for the country.

“Currently Fiji is rolling out its national meningococcal public health management guidelines to all clinicians and health workers. These guidelines set forth the government’s response to detecting, treating and responding to meningococcal outbreaks.”

The outbreak was of concern, says WHO, as those who have already contracted the disease had the possibility of spreading to other populations.

“As people can carry the bacteria and never present with the symptoms, it is possible that the bacteria may spread to other populations.”

The Health Ministry has stated that the number of meningococcal cases in Fiji had grown from 29 in 2016 to 48 in 2017.

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