Meningitis Outbreak: Authorities deny epidemic, some kindergartens close doors for quarantine

Meningitis Outbreak: Authorities deny epidemic, some kindergartens close doors for quarantine

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While the Ministry of Health and the Municipality of Yerevan insist that there is no meningitis epidemic in the city, at some kindergartens parents have been told that they are in quarantine. Simultaneously, there seem to be lots of patients with serous meningitis in hospitals.

According to the data of the Ministry of Health, 90 cases of enterovirus meningitis have already been registered this year, which is by 30 cases more than the figure for last year.

“Our attention was drawn to the fact that there is some activation, though we haven’t had cases of groups being affected by the disease. The causes of the disease among all patients are different,” head of the Health Ministry’s National Immunization Program Gayane Sahakyan told reporters on Wednesday.

She said that for prevention of the spread of the disease disinfection measures have been taken in pre-school establishments, vigilance at hospitals has been increased.

According to Sahakyan, the symptoms of the disease are immediately developed high fever and unbearable headache. “We can say that the rate of disease has started to lower, as at the peak we had 5-6 cases per day, now it decreased to 3-4.”

“It is acute serous meningitis, its incubation lasts up to 10 days, but it can be treated quickly, a patient recovers within 2-3 days, it is not treated with antibiotics, mainly lots of fluids are used,” she added.

The Health Ministry official said that if two suspicious cases are revealed in the same kindergarten, inspections are conducted there: “In the kindergartens where the infection was registered, disinfection measures are being taken, where no cases have been revealed, routine measures are in place.”

Kindergartens are divided into two groups: in some they deny the spread of meningitis, in others they urge the parents to keep their children at home.

“We have no such instructions, nothing like that. Attendance is as usual,” Katya Baghdasaryan, a manager at Yerevan’s kindergarten N71, told ArmeniaNow. “Groups have been reduced because we have sent some of the children to school, some of our teachers are on vacation, but in September new children will join the groups. We have received no statement from the Ministry.”

Meanwhile, a nurse at one of the groups in kindergarten No. 2 told the parents that they are having a 10-day quarantine and that the kids should stay at home.

“I don’t understand why they make all parents to keep their children at home? Let only the sick children stay at home as working parents do not know what to do,” one of the parents told ArmeniaNow.

Meanwhile, the Yerevan municipality says that there is no risk of the virus spread.

“Attendance at educational institutions working under the jurisdiction of municipal authorities is normal, the number of absentees is within the norm, there is no need for interference. Why cause additional panic?” deputy head of the Municipality’s Information Department Artur Sarukhanyan told ArmeniaNow.

Two days ago, talking to 168.am, chief infectionist of the Armenian Health Ministry, director of the Nork infection clinical hospital Ara Asoyan said that the spread of enterovirus disease has intensified across the region - in Russia, Georgia and Armenia.

“This is a unique virus on which, as a specialist, I myself have a lot of questions. I have worked in infection hospitals for more than 30 years, but I don’t remember such an epidemic. I don’t remember any enterovirus causing meningitis,” Asoyan said.