NATION

Ministry: MenC Scare Over

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is announcing the end of the Meningococcal outbreak that was declared on March 20, 2018. This is after the recommendation of the National
20 Dec 2018 10:00
Ministry: MenC Scare Over

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

This is after the recommendation of the National Meningococcal Taskforce after 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 1 to November 25, 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 five while one 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-threating 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 per cent 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 per cent may not survive while around 20 per cent 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.

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.

For more information, on prevention, and the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease, including meningitis and sepsis, please visit the Your Health section of the Ministry’s website: http://www.health.gov.fj

 

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