With a few days to go before the 2018 Micronesian Games begin, on July 15, a public health issue has emerged with reports of a potential outbreak of the rotavirus disease in Yap.
On Thursday, the Department of Public Health and Social Services issued a release stating it has been informed that the possible outbreak is being investigated.
According to DPHSS, rotavirus is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. While anyone can acquire the disease, it mostly affects infants and young children. Rotavirus spreads easily. The virus is shed in the stool of people who are infected. People can get sick if they touch objects contaminated with rotavirus and put their hands in their mouth or consume contaminated foods or drinks.
According to DPHSS, on July 6, the Yap Department of Health Services reported 141 cases of diarrhea. Of that number, seven were hospitalized and 71 required rehydration. Thirteen of 16 laboratory tests were positive for rotavirus.
Almost 2,000 delegates from Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae will be participating in the quadrennial event on July 15 to 27.
This is the first for Yap to host the Micronesian Games.
Joey Miranda, Guam National Olympic Committee chef de mission, said they are fully aware of the outbreak.
“(DHS) on Yap has disseminated the information and advised all to ensure that we take necessary precautions,” he said in a statement sent to The Guam Daily Post.
According to Miranda, the public health advisory has been disseminated to Guam team officials and athletes.
“Our athletes have been advised to take all necessary precautions, from hygiene to ensuring that their shot records are updated,” Miranda said.
Those who are infected with rotavirus exhibit symptoms such as fever, vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
DPHSS advised persons traveling to Yap to protect themselves by minimizing close contact with infected persons or those who have diarrhea-like symptoms.
Travelers to Yap also are encouraged by DPHSS to:
- Ensure their infant is fully vaccinated with the rotavirus vaccine. Two rotavirus vaccines are currently licensed for use in infants in the U.S.
- Bring soap and hand sanitizer.
- Wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and running water, especially after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.
DPHSS also advised all health care providers on Guam to be on alert for possible cases of rotavirus and to promptly report suspected cases to the Immunization Program, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, at 735-7143/7148 or 735-7135.
All health care providers are also urged to review and update the immunization status of all patients they see. If vaccination is contraindicated because of illness, schedule a follow-up appointment to update vaccination as soon as the illness is over.
For more information, call the DPHSS Immunization Program at 735-7143.