IH declares outbreak

Interior Health has declared an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Okanagan, after 11 cases have appeared in the region in 2017, and one teenager has died. 

The health authority declared the outbreak Thursday and said they're now offering immunization clinics throughout the Okanagan for people between the ages of 15 and 19, the age group that's been most impacted by the outbreak.

Dr. Karin Goodison, Interior Health medical health officer, said in the last six months, they've seen four cases in Oliver and one in Vernon.

While 11 cases have been reported in the Interior Health region this year, Dr. Goodison says they see less than five cases most years. 

The Vernon case is the most recent, and the young woman affected is currently in a medically-induced coma at Vancouver General Hospital.

Dr. Goodison also said a person between 15 and 19 with the disease has died in the Interior Health region this year, although she couldn't confirm it was the disease that caused the death.

Immunization was started in high schools in Vernon Thursday, and additional immunization will be rolled out in the rest of the Okanagan next week.

Dr. Goodison says the general population should not be concerned about the outbreak.

“The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is to not, what I call, swap spit. Don't share glasses, don't share cigarettes, don't share your saliva with other people.”

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