As Easter approaches, concern over typhoid outbreak in wake of funeral

    More information about the Auckland typhoid outbreak is needed before Easter services and gatherings  begin, the Labour Party says.

    The call for more information comes after the death of a Samoan woman from an outbreak of typhoid that appears to have originated in a Samoan church in Auckland.

    Auckland District Health Board Chief Medical Officer Dr Margaret Wilsher said the woman was extremely unwell when she was taken to hospital.

    “It was soon apparent that she had some sort of severe infection on top of pre-existing important medical problems,” Dr Wilsher said.

    The patient died 24 hours after  being admitted.

    “I’m saddened for this family’s loss and extend my condolences. I particularly want to reassure the fanau that she got the very best treatment possible, and that no one who visited her in hospital was at significant risk of infection.”

    The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) said it was checking people who had been in contact with the church group.

    The number of cases of typhoid has risen to 16, with 12 people still in hospital and another two probable cases awaiting test results.

    Typhoid is spread by human faces in contaminated water where there is poor hygiene around food preparation.

    Samoan lawyer Olinda Woodroffe said she wanted to know who prepared the food for the funeral in Manurewa, as knowing the leftovers would have been taken home.

    Woodroffe said people who attended the woman’s funeral may return home with the disease.

    “This woman would have had relatives from throughout New Zealand,” Woodroffe told Radio New Zealand.

    “She would have had relatives from Samoa. She would have had relatives probably from Australia.

    “The issue is that we also need to get this story to Samoa to try and get people who may have been here. They may not be, but prevention is better than cure.”

    The Labour Party’s spokesperson for Pacific Island affairs, Su’a William Sio, echoed her concerns.

    “We have a case of people who have travelled from outside Auckland have met have embraced have been in contact with those with typhoid, and they’ve left,” Sio said.

    “We don’t know how fast the health services are able to track that number of people. But my concern is, if we don’t contain this, it will spread.”

    Typhoid is present in several Pacific countries. Several outbreaks of typhoid were reported in Tongan villages last month.

    Typhoid

    Typhoid is an illness caused by infection with a specific bacteria called Salmonella typhi.

    It is found in the faeces of infected persons and spreads to others through faecal contamination of food and water.

    This occurs in situations where there is poor hygiene related to food preparation, where there is poor sanitation with inadequate ablution facilities and where drinking water is drawn from sources like wells and streams.

    The symptoms mimic those of other infectious diseases. Symptoms include fever, headache, abdominal pain, cold shivers, hot sweats and loss of appetite.

    The main points

    • More information about the Auckland typhoid outbreak is needed before Easter services and gatherings begin, the Labour Party says.
    • The call for more information comes after the death of a Samoan woman from an outbreak of typhoid that appears to have originated in a Samoan church in Auckland.
    • The number of cases of typhoid has risen to 16, with 12 people still in hospital and another two probable cases awaiting test results.
    • Typhoid is spread by human faces in contaminated water where there is poor hygiene around food preparation.

    For more information

    Fears typhoid may spread after funeral

    Treatment of typhoid patient

    Villagers in typhoid hotspot banned from sharing food until end of month

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