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Meningococcal disease is serious and deadly: Fiji Health Ministry

The public is advised to seek urgent medical attention if they see signs and symptoms of Meningococcal disease as Fiji's Health Ministry has declared an outbreak.

Acting National Advisor Communicable Disease, Dr Aalisha Sahukhan says this shouldn’t be taken lightly as it’s a life threatening disease caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides.

Dr Sahukhan says they have seen an increase in cases since 2016 which causes infection in the lining of the brain and in the blood, or both.

She says the Ministry is taking immediate nationwide action to counter this as it can be treated if detected early.

“The signs and symptoms are 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 in babies are; high fever, unusual crying, refusing to eat or drink, vomiting, floppy/drowsy, changes in sleeping patterns, seizures or Fits and rash – red/purple spots on the skin.

Dr Sahu Khan says meningococcal disease is not easily transmitted but spread from person to person.

“You can pass it via saliva or spit so this can happen when you are kissing on the mouth, sharing cups or utensils often I think in our culture we often share things a lot so cups at social gatherings you may be having a party and there may be alcohol and there tends to be sharing of cups in that situation.”

Prior to 2016, there was one to ten cases reported per year.

However, in 2016 there was 29 cases, and in 2017 48 cases were recorded.

This year there have been 18 cases as of 21 February .

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