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Published On: Tue, Jan 1st, 2013

Fiji issues a two-week ban on kava to help curb typhoid outbreak

Image/CDC

Image/CDC

The Government of Fiji issued a 14-day ban this weekend on the consumption of kava in an attempt to slow down an outbreak of the bacterial disease, typhoid fever, particularly in the northwestern Ba district, according to a Fiji Times report Sunday.

“Movement and gathering restricted by the Commissioner’s office for Koroboya and surrounding settlements have started, while for Navala Village, the kava ban will start Sunday,” Dr Mike Kama said.

Kava is the root of the Piper methysticum plant, which is found in the Western Pacific and is used to make a drink that contains sedative and anesthetic properties.

In Fiji, a drink called grog is made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining and mixing it with cold water. It is shared in gatherings of people for socializing.

It is health authorities hope that the ban will curb the current outbreak.

“Villagers have been urged to observe and practice good hygiene and sanitary practice and to also boil water before drinking, if water is untreated.”

Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki said he would be leading a government team today to talk to the villagers and to educate them on the precautionary measures and for the villagers to observe the kava and mass gathering ban.

A total of eight cases were recorded in these two villages.

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Salmonella typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S.typhi in their feces.

You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.

Learn more about typhoid fever in this educational video

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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