Settling epidemic requires continuing vigilance

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Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital numbers have levelled off following a recent campylobacter epidemic.
Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital numbers have levelled off following a recent campylobacter epidemic.

The health sector reports the campylobacter epidemic that affected more than 4000 people, due to unclean water in Havelock North, requires vigilance to avoid further sickness.

Hawke's Bay Hospital admissions remained the same today with seven people and one in the Intensive Care Unit. The Intensive Care patient has had campylobacter but needed further intensive care for an unrelated medical issue.

General Practices and district nurses are advising the Hawke's Bay District Health Board they believe the situation is settling.

To date there are 171 confirmed cases of campylobacter and 379 probable, a total of 550.

Health Board Chief executive Kevin Snee said extra surveillance was in place for two other bugs that have a longer incubation time than campylobacter - cryptosporidium and giardia. Giardia has an incubation time of up to 21 days and would have been killed by the chlorine and the boil-water notice was put in place to kill cryptosporidium, which has an incubation period of up to 20 days.

More information about cryptosporidium and giardia are available from ourhealthhb.nz

Dr Snee said extra surveillance was in place, ensuring any increase in sickness would be promptly reported to the Health Board.

"We will let the public know straight away if we begin to see any signs of increased sickness," he said.

"So far we have only seen the bug in a small number of people, but it can take longer to develop so we remain alert.

"We want to make sure people are safe, so again we remind everyone to keep an eye out for people living on their own and older people so we can make sure they get medical help if they aren't getting better or are feeling worse."

Healthline is available 24/7 on 0800 611 116.

Acting Medical Officer of Health William Rainger said people with private bores should ensure their water is clean.

More advice for bore owners can be found at: healthed.govt.nz/resource/household-water-supplies.

All people should follow good hand hygiene rules. For information visit ourhealthhb.nz

There are two illnesses associated with campylobacter. Reactive arthritis is painful and affects more than one joint, but will usually respond well to anti-inflammatories and treatment from a GP. The other is Guillain Barre syndrome, a rare neurological condition which hospital specialists are well-equipped to treat.

GPs advise diarrhoea increases the risk of the contraceptive pill failing. Women need to take extra contraception to prevent getting pregnant if they have diarrhoea.

The boil water notice remains in place for Havelock North only. The advice is to boil water for one minute.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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