Vi­ral menin­gi­tis fears in Pre­to­ria

3 chil­dren ill, an­other 36 ex­hibit­ing symp­toms of the dis­ease in Tsh­wane hos­pi­tals se­vere

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NTANDO MAKHUBU

PRE­TO­RIA is on alert af­ter young chil­dren tested pos­i­tive for en­terovi­ral menin­gi­tis, while 36 oth­ers have been con­fined to hos­pi­tal for ex­hibit­ing symp­toms of the dis­ease.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Diseases said yes­ter­day that 21 chil­dren had been ad­mit­ted to the same pri­vate fa­cil­ity at the be­gin­ning of the month, with con­firmed signs of the con­ta­gious dis­ease. Five had a con­firmed di­ag­no­sis of en­terovi­ral menin­gi­tis.

NCID spokes­woman Nom­buso Sha­bal­ala said: “All of them were ad­mit­ted with the symp­toms of menin­gi­tis or en­cephali­tis, or a non-spe­cific febrile ill­ness with gen­eral myal­gia and gas­troin­testi­nal com­plaints.”

Fur­ther in­quiries turned up 18 more cases of vi­ral menin­gi­tis, she said. Th­ese were in an­other fa­cil­ity in the Tsh­wane area and all cases, ex­cept one, were chil­dren younger than 10.

“So far the NICD has re­ceived resid­ual clin­i­cal spec­i­mens from seven of the cases, three of which tested pos­i­tive for en­terovirus.”

Pre­vi­ous tests of the three had con­firmed only one with the virus.

Menin­gi­tis oc­curs mainly in the warmer sea­sons, and the last se­ri­ous threat to South Africa was in Pre­to­ria be­tween Oc­to­ber 2010 and Fe­bru­ary 2011. That was caused by the echovirus four, the NICD said.

The cen­tre de­scribed menin­gi­tis as the in­flam­ma­tion of the meninges or the tis­sue that cov­ers the spinal cord and the brain. While there are sev­eral strains of bac­te­rial menin­gi­tis, this cur­rent one is vi­ral and is caused by non- po­lio en­teroviruses.

En­terovirus menin­gi­tis is usu­ally less se­vere than bac­te­rial menin­gi­tis and the other vi­ral causes of menin­gi­tis, but could se­verely af­fect very young chil­dren and in­di­vid­u­als with com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tems.

“It may present with se­vere ill­ness,” Sha­bal­ala said.

Trans­mis­sion of the en­terovirus is fae­cal-oral and spread as a re­sult of gen­eral poor hy­giene. The en­terovirus lives in the hu­man gas­tro-intes- tinal tract and is shed in fae­ces. Due to its strength and sta­bil­ity, the en­terovirus can live out­side the hu­man body for days.

Con­tam­i­nated food and wa­ter are also re­spon­si­ble for the spread of this virus.

“Vi­ral con­tam­i­na­tion of hands and sur­faces oc­curs through con­tact with fae­ces. In­fec­tion oc­curs when vi­ral par­ti­cles are in­gested, or come into con­tact with mu­cous mem­branes,” the NCID said in a fact sheet on the sub­ject.

En­terovi­ral menin­gi­tis symp­toms in chil­dren in­clude fever, poor ap­petite, ir­ri­tabil­ity, lethargy and sleepi­ness. Adults could have fever, stiff neck, headache, dis­like of bright lights, lethargy, sleepi­ness and lack of ap­petite. Vom­it­ing and nau­sea were com­mon, while di­ar­rhoea and ab­dom­i­nal pains were an al­ter­na­tive and more com­mon pre­sen­ta­tion of en­terovirus in­fec­tion.

Mus­cle pains and joint aches, sore throat and rash had also been re­ported.

“Very rarely, en­terovi­ral menin­gi­tis has been as­so­ci­ated with acute flac­cid paral­y­sis,” the fact sheet said.

The NCID cau­tioned that thor­ough hand- wash­ing was the most ef­fec­tive method of pre­vent­ing the spread of en­teroviruses, cou­pled with the gen­eral prac­tice of good hy­giene.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.