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Deaths of in the Solomon Islands Associated With Rotavirus Epidemic

Update:  The government of the Solomon Island provided Food Safety News with more information on the health emergency they are facing.   Here is that statement:

“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) would like to clarify that while six deaths have been reported during the diarrhea outbreak, the cause of death of each individual is being reviewed. Four deaths are of children and two deaths are of adults. Three of the children were under five years of age, while one child was a seven year old. 

“The cause of death is currently being investigated and officially confirmed. It is likely that the children died from complications associated with diarrhea such as severe dehydration, however, it is possible that the adults may have died from other causes. MHMS will update the number of deaths associated with diarrhea when the cause of death in all cases is confirmed. It should be noted that outbreaks evolve quickly and all data are provisional and subject to change as more information becomes available. 

The Ministry would also like to clarify that as at 27th December 2015, there were approximately 2100 additional diarrhea cases estimated to be due to the current outbreak, in addition to those normally expected at this time of year.”

Our report, corrected as to the deaths, follows below:

Rotavirus, not seen much in the United States because there is a vaccine for it, is currently epidemic in the South Pacific’s third largest archipelago, otherwise known as the Solomon Islands.

Across six provinces, reports by Radio New Zealand and the Solomon Star newspaper say there are now 2,100 confirmed cases of the virus, which brings severe vomiting and diarrhea and is most common among infants and young children.

solomon_406x250Two adults and four children from four provinces have died from the outbreak since it began in December.

Health officials in the Solomon Islands confirmed the epidemic by sending samples out for lab work in Australia and Fiji. The test results from both of those countries has confirmed the presence of rotavirus in all patient samples.

Dr. Chris Becha, under secretary for Health and Medical Service in the Solomon Islands, said two deaths were recorded in the Western Province, two in Malaita, one in Guadalcanal and one in Honiara. All were children less than five years old.

“There are signs that the outbreak is slowing down in Honiara and Guadalcanal, but there is an increase in diarrhea cases in Choiseul, Isabel, Malaita and Temotu,” Becha told the Solomon Star.

“With the wide spread of the outbreak we wish to advise parents and guardians to take extra care of their children especially when it comes to hygiene to prevent them from contracting diarrhea.

“Not only that, we also would like to advise parents to take their children to clinics if they see their children developing symptoms of the Rotavirus, which is responsible for the recent outbreak, to avoid illness or even unwanted deaths.

“Symptoms of the Rotavirus usually appear approximately two to three days after infection; this includes vomiting, very watery diarrhea, often with fever and abdominal pain.”

The World Health Organization is monitoring the situation and supporting the governments efforts.

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