Ministry of Health Has Has Lifted Meningococcal C Threats

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is announcing the end of the Meningococcal C outbreak that was declared on March 20th, 2018. This is after the recommendation of the
19 Dec 2018 14:49
Ministry of Health Has Has Lifted Meningococcal C Threats

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is announcing the end of the Meningococcal C outbreak that was declared on March 20th, 2018.

This is after the recommendation of the National Meningococcal Taskforce following a steady decrease in cases during the period of the national meningococcal C vaccination campaign, which officially ended at the end of October, 2018.

The last confirmed case of meningococcal C was reported in September 2018.

85 cases were reported from January 1st to November 25th, 2018, of which 36 were laboratory confirmed, 10 probable, and 39 suspected cases. Central Division recorded a total of 37 cases, the highest of all the divisions followed by 25 in the western, 22 in the northern and 1 in the eastern division.

There were 6 confirmed deaths, of which 5 were children under the age of 5 while 1 was an adult.

While the outbreak of meningococcal C is officially over, the Ministry is urging everyone to stay aware of the symptoms.

Members of the public are also reminded that the national vaccination campaign was only for meningococcal C, and will not protect against other types of bacteria, including our normally circulating meningococcal B, which remains rare but deadly.

Vaccination for meningococcal C is still available to all Fijians aged between 1-19 years at health centres around Fiji.

What does the community need to do?

1)    Continue to be alert for the signs and symptoms and go immediately to the nearest health facility if you or your loved ones have any of these symptoms.

2)    Practice good hygiene to help prevent the spread of the bacteria.

3)    Ensure that everyone between the ages of 1-19 receives the meningococcal C vaccine.

Meningococcal Disease Information Sheet

  • Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening disease caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. It 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.

Meningococcal disease is very serious but can be treated if detected early

  • Meningococcal disease can only be treated at a health facility with antibiotic medication (medicines that kills bacteria in the body) specifically used for this disease. People with meningococcal disease will be admitted to hospitals.
  • Identifying the symptoms and seeking urgent medical treatment at a health facility is critical and will give a sick person the best chance of survival. In previous outbreaks worldwide, up to 50% of people who got the disease died after failing to get a proper treatment at health facilities.
  • Most people who get the disease and are treated appropriately, will recover fully, however 8-12% may not survive while around 20% will have permanent disabilities (e.g. severe brain damage).
  • If you notice signs and symptoms of this disease, you must urgently visit your nearest health facility.
  •  A person may start to feel sick within 3 to 7 days after coming in contact with the bacteria.
  • It is critical that everyone knows the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease, so they can seek immediate medical treatment if they suspect meningococcal disease.

Signs and symptoms of Meningococcal Disease (including meningitis and sepsis)

  • Symptoms of meningococcal disease, especially for older children and adults include sudden fever, vomiting, headache, and stiff neck/backache. Other symptoms include:
  •       Nausea
  •      Eyes are sensitive to light
  •     Confusion
  •     Rash – red/purple spots in the skin

It can be difficult to notice the symptoms in babies, or they may not be there at all. Some of the symptoms that you should be alert for are:

  •  High fever
  •  Unusual crying
  •      Refusing to eat or drink
  •     Vomiting
  •     Floppy/drowsy
  •        Changes in sleeping patterns
  •     Seizures or Fits
  •    Rash – red/purple spots on the skin

This is a deadly disease.  If a person has the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease, they require urgent medical treatment.


Meningococcal Disease is spread from Person to Person

The meningococcal disease bacteria are not easily transmitted but are spread from person to person via transfer of saliva or spit. This can happen when a person with the bacteria coughs on an uninfected person, or deeply kisses an uninfected person on the mouth. It may also spread through the sharing of drinks from the same glass/cup/water bottle or bowl e.g. kava, or taki alcohol at a nightclub.

Babies and children under the age of 5 frequently put things into their mouths, therefore they are at higher risk of getting the bacteria.

Not everyone who has the bacteria will get the disease. Approximately 10-20% of the general population will carry the bacteria at the back of their nose and mouth from time to time, but will not have symptoms. This is because the bacteria need to get into the bloodstream to cause the disease.


Certain People are at Increased Risk for Meningococcal Disease

Anyone can get meningococcal disease. However, babies, children, teenagers and young adults are most at risk of getting this disease.

There is an increased risk of meningococcal disease spreading in boarding schools and between people living within the same house.

People who have certain medical conditions that weaken their immune systems are also at high risk.



Practicing proper hygiene can help prevent the spread of the disease

  •        Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or handkerchief when coughing and sneezing
  •         Dispose tissue 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 at social gathering (taki), cigarettes, or kava bowls.

For more information please visit your nearest health facility or the ‘My Health Section’ on the Ministry of Health and Medical Services website


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