24 Mar 2018

Hygiene key to stopping spread of meningitis in Fiji says Unicef

3:34 pm on 24 March 2018

UNICEF in Fiji says the meningitis outbreak can be addressed by families paying particular attention to basic hygiene.

Fiji's Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of meningococcal disease recently with 18 cases reported in the first two months of this year and 48 cases last year, nearly double the number of the year before.

The head of UNICEF Pacific based in Suva said it was working with the World Health Organisation and the government to respond to the outbreak with public education messages, and mobilising vaccination resources.

Sheldon Yett said there was no need for families to panic and children should keep going to school, but parents do need to seek medical attention if concerned about sickness, and they should heed the hygiene messages.

"Like most other that are spread by airborne droplets, basic hygiene goes a long way to keeping people safe. Covering your mouth, making sure you don't share bottles at the bar or the same bowl when you're drinking kava. Basic hygiene like many diseases is really key to preventing the spread of the disease," he said.

Mr Yett said in the past Fiji only had five to ten cases of meningitis each year.

The symptoms of meningitis can include high fever, headache, a stiff neck, vomiting and sometimes a rash.