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Chief doctor denies Astana meningitis outbreak

Photo courtesy of ortcom.kz Photo courtesy of ortcom.kz

Suspected meningitis that has forced more than a hundred people into hospital beds in Astana, was the main topic of the briefing on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Chief sanitary doctor of the capital Zhandarbek Bekshin, who is the Acting Chairman of the Agency for Consumer Protection of Kazakhstan, had to answer a barrage of questions from the journalists, Tengrinews reports.

According to the journalists, parents of some of the sick children approached them to inform about lack of space in the city's  infectious diseases hospital. They said that hospital was so full that it had to line up beds in the corridors. However Bekshin denied this. “This is absolutely not true. (...) There are no hospital bed is the corridors. As of today, we have 80 laboratory-confirmed cases [this is the number of children in the infectious diseases hospital in Astana]," he said adding that there were 160 beds in the children's infectious diseases hospital.

Earlier it was reported that 160 patients with mitigates symptoms were hospitalised in Astana. The chief doctor did not specify if laboratory test were made in the other 80 cases.

The chief sanitary doctor reiterated that this was not a outbreak of meningitis, but a seasonal rise, since an outbreak is when 5% of the population is affected. He informed that 900 meningitis cases were recorded in Astana last year. "Last year there were 199 registered cases of meningitis before July 21, this year there has been 193 cases during the same period, which is even less then last year," he said, adding that the seasonal rise was starting to subside. 

According to the medical statistics, meningitis peaks in July in Kazakhstan. But from the doctor's statement, it looks like almost 80% of cases are registered after the peak month in autumn and winter, which is not typical for bacterial meningitis. 

Zhandarbek Bekshin said that last year there were cases of meningitis in almost every Oblast of Kazakhstan, except Atyrau, Kyzylorda and Kostanai Oblasts. This year, meningitis cases were mostly concentrated in eight oblasts of the country, with 1-2 cases in other oblasts and none at all in Kyzylorda and Kostanai oblasts.

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

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