Young at risk of meningococcal disease

Update: 12:02PM YOUNG people are most at risk of getting a meningococcal disease, a deadly bacterial infection which is now officially an outbreak.

The health ministry said that while not everyone who carries the bacteria will get the disease, it has listed the following at risk groups; babies, children under five, teenagers and young adults.

Added to that list are people in boarding schools or sharing a house with an infected person.

Infants were put on the list only because of their nature to frequently put things into their mouths.

“Approximately 10-20 per cent of the general population will carry the bacteria at the back of their nose and mouth from time to time, but will not have any symptoms,” the MOH said.

“This is because meningococcal disease only occurs when the bacteria get into the bloodstream, and this happens in less than 1 per cent of those that have it.”

The MOH issues the following basic hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the disease:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or handkerchief when coughing and sneezing. Dispose of tissues in the bin, wash handkerchief daily with soap and water
  • After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands with soap and water
  • Don’t share eating utensils, cups/glasses/water bottles, drinks (taki), cigarettes, or kava bowls. 

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