3 Mar 2010

Typhoid outbreak in Fiji spreading

10:23 am on 3 March 2010

In Fiji, 99 people are now known to have contracted typhoid in what has been described as an alarming outbreak.

There have been no fatalities so far and Fiji's Ministry of Health is blaming the outbreak on contaminated food and water.

The public health deputy secretary, Dr Josefa Koroivueta, says 55 people were infected in the past week alone.

Dr Koroivueta says health teams are working in the affected areas to help contain the outbreak.

"They are still going in for health and education and also to make sure that public gatherings are banned," he says.

"They (will) also make sure that people have access to safe water, looking at food preparation and monitoring the measures, and keeping a lookout on suspected cases."

Dr Marc Shaw from the Worldwise Travellers and Vaccination Centre says the illness is spreading at an alarming rate.

"This does show that there's a need for urgent public health measures to prevent this from becoming a major concern."

About 50 Red Cross volunteers are helping to raise community awareness about typhoid as well as distributing water containers to the affected areas.