31 Mar 2009

NZ and Tokelau officials try to manage an influenza-like outbreak

10:10 am on 31 March 2009

New Zealand health authorities are working with Tokelau's officials to manage an influenza-like outbreak affecting more than one in every ten people on the country's three atolls.

Tokelau has about 1500 residents spread over three atolls, and around 150 people have reported ill with influenza.

The school on Atafu, the northern-most atoll, has been closed, public gatherings halted, sick people advised to stay home and hand washing messages reinforced.

Dr Fran McGrath, from New Zealand's Ministry of Health says the symptoms are a fever, malaise, and muscle aches.

"But because the children haven't been exposed to it before then there's a large number of them are picking it up. A small number appear to be needing antibiotics but but the majority of children appear to be, it just appears to be a normal course of a flu-like illness really."

Dr Fran McGrath says New Zealand health services and the World Health Organisation are providing advice and additional health supplies such as vaccines, which along with antiviral supplies will be shipped to Tokelau on the overnight boat trip from Samoa.

They have also offered nursing support.