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Suspected meningitis knocks down 160 in Astana

30 july 2014, 13:18
Photo courtesy of RIA Novosti
Photo courtesy of RIA Novosti

Suspected meningitis has forced more than a hundred people into hospital beds in Astana, Tengrinews reports.

According to the Department of Consumer Protection of the capital of Kazakhstan, 160 people have been hospitalized in one month.

“As of July 25, there were 160 patients in hospitals' in-patient wards with symptoms that do not exclude meningitis. Since July 1, after clinical examination 139 patients have been diagnosed with serous meningitis. Of them, 50 cases are laboratory-confirmed," the Department said in a response to a formal inquiry from Tengrinews.

The Department assured that it was not an outbreak but a seasonal rise, since there was a similar number of cases during the same period of last year. The number of cases peaked in July. The majority - 95% - of those diagnosed with meningitis were children under the age of 14.

"No instances of group contagion have been registered, therefore, restrictive measures are not necessary," the Department said in response to a question on whether educational institutions and kindergartens had to be quarantined.

"The Health Department ensured timely hospitalization of the patients with serous meningitis. In cases of serous meningitis caused by enterovirus, disinfection measures in crowded places are not required as personal hygiene is enough to eliminate the nonpercutaneous channel of the infection," the agency said.

Virological investigators tested 11 samples from fountains, 16 samples from surface water reservoirs, and 10 samples of sewage water. Only one sewage water sample showed enterovirus, indicating circulation of the virus in the external environment.

The Department called the citizens to carefully flow the general preventive measures to reduce the risk of catching the enterovirus infection.

These are: drink only bottled water or boiled tap water; wash hands with soap before each meal and after each visit to the toilet; strictly observe the rules of personal and public hygiene; wash fruit and vegetables with a brush before eating them, swim only in officially designated places; abstain from purchasing food products of unclear origin or away from officially designated trading areas.

Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis occurs more often than bacterial meningitis, and is milder. It usually occurs in the late summer and early fall. It most often affects children and adults under age 30. Symptoms usually come on quickly, and may include: fever and chills, mental status changes, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), severe headache, stiff neck, agitation, bulging fontanelles in babies, decreased alertness, poor feeding or irritability in children, rapid breathing, unusual posture, with the head and neck arched backwards.

The heath department specifically urged people not to reserve to self-treatment but to immediately see a doctor in case of noticing the symptoms.

Reporting by Altynai Zhumzhumina, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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