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Mistakes in typhoid response: ARPHS

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017

Auckland health officials have admitted there were mistakes in the way they handled an outbreak of typhoid in the city but believe they did the right things in limiting its spread.

One woman has died and 16 are confirmed infected with the disease but Auckland Regional Public Health Service have been criticised for keeping quiet about it until days after the woman's funeral.

She was a member of Mount Roskill Samoan Assembly of God church and her family say they didn't know she had typhoid until ARPHS put out a media release following the funeral.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says he only found out about it by watching the news and the school children that attended were only informed on Wednesday.

ARPHS spokesman William Rainger admits there was confusion about where the church held its meeting services, which led to miscommunication with the school and parents.

"We regret that. We are apologising to the principal and to the parents," he told Newshub on Thursday.

"I think there have been things that we could have done better... but I think the core public health activity, to prevent the spread of the illness, we have been doing and doing well."

ARPHS had thought they were dealing with a family outbreak and had been confident that by following up with the people in the congregation they would get those most at risk.

Dr Rainger admitted it would have been better to talk to the congregation as a whole.

However, things were complicated by her death and the need for funeral arrangements, he told the broadcaster.

Typhoid is spread by eating or drinking food contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. Symptoms include a high fever, stomach pain, diarrhoea, headache and cough.

There were 42 recorded notifications of typhoid in New Zealand in 2014 and 43 in 2015.

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