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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

March 10, 2011

Preventing the spread of infection

Advice given to Christchurch residents since the February 22 earthquake about the risks from spreading infections is a timely reminder of the importance of good hygiene to help prevent the spread of infections in all of our families and communities.

Three cases of viral meningitis have recently been admitted to Grey Hospital. Unlike bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis is relatively common, rarely serious, and recovery is usually complete. Contacts of a case do not require treatment.

Many different viruses may cause meningitis and these viruses are found in nose and throat secretions and faeces (poo) of infected people. In most people these viruses may cause symptoms of a cold, mild flu like symptoms, headache, mouth ulcers, skin rashes or sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.

These viruses may be spread person to person by contact with nose and throat secretions or faeces from an infected person.

To prevent the spread of infections, remember

  • Wash your hands - soap and water for 20 seconds and then dry for 20 seconds) OR use alcohol hand gel:
  • After using the toilet or changing a baby's nappies
  • Before preparing food or eating
  • After sneezing, coughing and nose-blowing
  • Cover any coughs

The value of good hygiene practices is well illustrated in Christchurch where after the earthquake spread of any serious infections has been avoided so far by such preventative measures.

If you have any concerns about someone who is ill please contact your family doctor or practice nurse.

Background information:

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and can be caused by several different bacteria and viruses. Bacterial meningitis is more serious but far less common than viral meningitis. There has been one case of bacterial meningitis reported in the West Coast in the past year.


For further information please contact
Muriel Rusike
Health Protection Officer
Canterbury District Health Board
Community & Public Health Division (West Coast)
DDI: (03) 768 1179
Mobile: 027 213 8143

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