Diarrhea Outbreak Kills 16 Children In Solomon Islands

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At least 1,000 sickened by highly contagious rotavirus

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 4, 2014) – At least sixteen children have died in a diarrhoea outbreak sweeping across the Solomon Islands.

Health officials say at least a thousand other people have fallen ill.

The Ministry of Health has declared a nationwide alert and is urging citizens to wash their hands with soap and use clean towels after using the toilet.

Under Secretary for Policy and Planning, Dr Chris Becha, says all of the deadly cases involved very young children.

"The verified figure is all of them are under five in the past two weeks," he said.

"And there are a thousand people who are affected and we urge them to take extra care as far as this outbreak is concerned."

Rotavirus has been confirmed as the cause of the outbreaks in Honiara, Guadalcanal and Gizo.

Rotavirus infections are highly contagious and spread through person-to-person contact, contaminated objects, or contaminated food or drink.

Symptoms, including diarrhoea and vomiting, usually appear between one to three days after being exposed to the virus.

"Rotavirus can be prevented by thorough hand washing for 10 seconds using soap and water and drying with a clean towel after going to the toilet or caring for someone with diarrhoea, and before preparing or eating food," Dr Becha said.

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