The ministry of health and medical services (MHMS) national Surveillance Unit and the World Health Organization (WHO) have received reports of 4 deaths in children under 12 years old in Makira Province.
While it is not yet confirmed, there is a possibility that the outbreak is caused by Meningococcal bacteria.
“Although Meningococcal disease is potentially fatal and should always be viewed as serious, most people will survive with immediate antibiotic treatment”, said Dr. Tenneth Dalipanda, Undersecretary of health improvement.
“Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person to person and the bacteria do not survive well outside the human body”, Dr. Dalipanda added.
“The bacteria are spread through respiratory droplets, such as through kissing. People most at risk of infection are those who stay in the same house or have very close contact with someone with the disease.”
The most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting. Others include cold hands and feet, limb/joint pain, headache, or pin-prick rash changing to large red-purple blotches.
Babies and very young children may also be irritable, have difficulty waking, rapid breathing, diarrhoea, a high-pitched cry or refuse to eat.
Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics but the course should be started as soon as possible.
“Protect yourselves and your families; be on the lookout for symptoms and visit your local health centre immediately if they occur”, Dr. Dalipanda concluded.
MHMS and WHO have sent a team to Makira to assist provincial health staff further investigate and control this outbreak.