TYPHOID OUTBREAK IN FIJI SICKENS DOZENS

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Village headman blames lack of livestock controls

By Maciu Malo SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 28, 2011) – Twenty-nine villagers of Nanoko in Navosa have been hospitalized after a typhoid outbreak in the village.

Village headman Epeli Tavaiqia said the spread of typhoid was a serious concern as more than 60 villagers and schoolchildren were suspected to be infected with the disease.

He said health officers had placed a curfew for villagers to remain in the village for 12 days until the disease was fully contained.

Mr. Tavaiqia said the latest victims to be hospitalized was a man and his three children.

He said the Navatusila District School and Thomas Baker Memorial High School were forced to close early last week.

"The spread of typhoid is a threat to the villagers since this is the first time this number of villagers are infected," he said.

"Some villagers have been discharged from hospitals, some are at the hospitals and some are waiting for the outcome of the tests. Altogether there are more than 60 people being treated and many more villages are expected to be admitted to hospitals this week," said Mr. Tavaiqia.

Ministry of Health spokesman Peni Namotu said a health team was deployed to Nanoko to contain the disease. He said the team was doing its best to contain the sickness as schoolchildren had been infected.

[PIR editor’s note: Village head Epeli Tavaiqia says that, because villagers did not exercise control over their animals, including pigs, horses, dogs and cows found loitering around, they are at fault for the typhoid outbreak. Officials have said the sickness is caused by eating or drinking contaminated foods, as well as flies. The village has been asked to heed warnings and clean up in light of recent deaths earlier in the year.]

"This is a serious health issue that needs to be contained quickly to prevent the outbreak," he said. "The team is monitoring the situation and people are not allowed to move around. Villagers have been urged to heed advice of the health team and to practice basic health sanitation," said Mr. Namotu.

Mr. Tavaiqia said the contamination of drinking water by animals was the major cause of the sickness as advised by the health team.

"The water source used for drinking is exposed to everyone and even animals such as pigs, cows, horses and dogs cross through this water source. To make the matter worse some villagers failed to take heed of the health advice with relation to healthy living tips," he said.

Mr. Namotu said villagers were told to boil all drinking water and to wash their hands with soap.

"Those that feel that they have the typhoid symptoms have been asked to report the matter to health team or the nurse in the village."

Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki said the health team was trying its best to contain the sickness and the onus was on villagers to work closely with the health team to eradicate the sickness.

"It is important for the villagers to obey the instructions of the health officers in order to eradicate the problem," said Cdr. Cawaki.

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