Last Updated on 7 months by Publishing Team

MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES ADDRESSES DIARRHEA OUTBREAK IN BALEVUTO, BA

12 September 2023

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to inform the public that investigations into the increase of cases of diarrhoeal disease reported in the Balevuto Medical Area remain ongoing. From August 20th to 11 September 2023, 72 cases of diarrhoeal illness presenting with loose bowel motions, with or without blood in stool, with fever, abdominal pain or vomiting were reported in the Balevuto medical area,  including in Nukuloa, Balevuto, Nacaci, Toge, Vatusui, Tabataba, Naruku, Talaiya, and Moto. Currently we are seeing 4 to 5 new cases per day as opposed to 0 to 2 cases per day prior to this outbreak.

The Ba team are, working on ensuring there is community wide close follow up of patients with chronic underlying disease, and the elderly, to ensure ongoing wellbeing, as these are the groups of people more at risk of falling ill and also developing severe disease during this outbreak.

As of 11 September 2023, seven (7) out of 18 people admitted to the hospital, have been discharged. Furthermore, all the cases admitted have responded well to antibiotics and other support treatment provided.  One suspected case has tested positive for Shigella sonnei, a type of bacteria that is spread through the faeces of infected persons, and that is known to cause outbreaks of acute diarrhoeal illness. Further specialized testing of patient samples will be done at a reference laboratory in Melbourne.

The Ministry Health and Medical Services has four teams on the ground actively monitoring the situation, and contingency plans are in place to expedite or escalate our response if necessary. Chemical analysis of tap water from the water supply scheme providing tap water to over 6,000 residents conducted by Koronivia Research Station shows all chemicals are within the normal range for drinking water standards (USAEPA Drinking Water Standards, 2018; WHO Drinking Water Standards 2019 Guidelines).

In addition to the already conducted analysis of the tap water, the Ba Medical team, , are collecting samples from alternative sources of water i.e., tanks and borehole for analysis at Fiji CDC. The teams are also doing house visits, supplying WASH kits, purification tablets and conducting public health awareness.

Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to work in close collaboration with partners including the Water Authority of Fiji, the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, and Ministry of Education and wishes to assure the Nacaci residents that we are committed to addressing this issue promptly and transparently to ensure the health and well-being of our communities.

We implore all residents of Nacaci Settlement, as well as those in Balevuto and nearby areas, to prioritize good hygiene practices, including boiling all drinking water and proper handwashing with soap and water before and after meals, as well as after visiting the toilet.

We urge the public to promptly seek medical attention at their nearest health facility if they experience loose and watery stools, along with any of the following symptoms:

– Nausea (feeling sick)

– Vomiting

– Fever

– Headaches

– Bloating and Flatulence (excess gas)

– Abdominal pain

– Loss of appetite

The Government remains committed to ensuring the safety and health of our communities, and we will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves.

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