The Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama, has moved to assuage fears about an apparent outbreak of typhoid fever in the Pacific.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the Minister said there is certainly no such outbreak in Samoa.
The Minister advised members of the public not to pay attention to reports from overseas that are not accurate.
He assured however that in the case where an outbreak does arise, the Ministry of Health and National Health Services are well equipped to deal with it.
“The process is that if someone comes into the hospital and is suspected to have typhoid, tests are conducted and once it’s confirmed, the laboratory reports it directly to the Surveillance Division,” he said.
“They visit the patient and screen other family members to determine if this case is an isolated one.
“The Surveillance team further conducts an investigation whether the typhoid is from food or person to person contact. This is the process.”
Minister Tuitama noted that typhoid cases are endemic in Samoa.
“We get cases here and there but when it does affect an entire family, that’s when the Hospital steps in to determine as to the source of infection.
“This is what we call cluster cases, then the surveillance look for contacts and carriers in the area.”
The good news according to the Health Minister is that typhoid, when it is detected early, can be cured.
“It’s not like ebola which is a very deadly disease and there is no cure,” he said.
“Or tuberculosis and leprosy where it takes some time for the treatment to clear out the disease from your system.
“For typhoid... you get it and you treat it and by two weeks, it’s finished. There is no danger in that.
“If by any chance you get it, there is no big deal. The medicine are made available and you can treat it.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to urge the public to utilize the immunization programme carried out by the Health sector for protection.
“The service is there, but it’s the parents’ duty to bring their children for their immunization shots.
“I know it’s not compulsory to get their immunization shots but then the baby is at risk if they don’t get their protection shots.”