Two cases per week

A TOTAL of 38 cases of meningococcal disease have been recorded in the country from January 1 to March 29.

This was confirmed in a statement by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services last night.

The ministry said out of these 38 cases, 20 cases were laboratory confirmed while 18 suspected based on clinical signs and symptoms and or links to another case.

It said there had been an average of two cases recorded per week in the last four weeks.

“Last week (week of March 19) there were three cases reported, and this week (week of March 26) there were another three cases,” the ministry said.

It said of the 38 cases, six were from Navesau Adventist High School in Tailevu.

The ministry said the six had been diagnosed and transferred to the hospital after a visit to the school by a team from Nayavu Health Centre as part of the ministry’s public health response to the previously reported cases. However, none of the 2018 deaths to date have been from the school.

“Since the report of the first case at Navesau Adventist High School, the Nayavu Health Centre team, the Tailevu subdivisional team, and the Central Division team have made daily school visits where they have administered preventative antibiotics to all students and teachers.”

The ministry said it was in the process of procuring emergency vaccines for the school, which was expected to be given to the students next week.

Meanwhile, the ministry says it is also aware that private pharmacies have brought in vaccines, however, it is encouraging that only vaccines for meningococcal C be used during this outbreak.

This includes the meningococcal C conjugate vaccine (brands include: Neis-vac, Menitorix) and the quadrivalent ACWY conjugate vaccine (brands include: Menactra, Menveo, Nimenrix).

The ministry advised the public to check with multiple pharmacies before purchasing the drug because some “are charging significantly higher prices than others”.

“Please keep in mind that vaccination is not a cure, it is only meant to prevent you from getting meningococcal C.

“We continue to strongly encourage the public to take simple preventative measures such as practising proper hygiene, and identifying the early symptoms of the disease.

“Go immediately to the nearest health facility if you or your loved ones have any of these symptoms; and practise good hygiene to help prevent the spread of the bacteria,”

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