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Thermal pool users warned about health risk

29 April 2000

Thermal pool users warned about health risk

USERS of thermal pools are being warned about the risk of severe illness after what appears to be a case of amoebic meningitis in the Waikato.

Dr Dell Hood, Medical Officer of Health for the Waikato, said a 10-year-old was critically ill in Waikato Hospital with a preliminary diagnosis of amoebic meningitis. The child had swum in thermal pools over the Easter holiday break.

"Although the diagnosis is not finally confirmed we suspect amoebic meningitis," Dr Hood said. "As a precaution, until we complete our investigations we are advising anyone who swims in hot pools to be aware of the risks and symptoms.

"The main message is not to jump or dive into such pools, and not to put your head under. The organism which causes amoebic meningitis lives in soil and water and can enter the body when water is forced up the nose, as in diving or jumping.

"Symptoms are severe headaches, vomiting and fever.

"Pools which are concreted, fully treated and chlorinated are generally believed to be safe. However, until our investigations are completed, this advice should be applied when swimming in all thermal pools and springs."

Dr Hood said the last case of amoebic meningitis - which in New Zealand has generally followed swimming in hot pools- was believed to have occurred at least 20 years ago.

"People will be much more aware of meningococcal meningitis, which has been epidemic in New Zealand for the past nine years. Symptoms are similar."

Dr Hood said anyone with symptoms which could be meningitis should see a doctor straight away.

Doctors are also being asked to be aware of the symptoms and to give antibiotics immediately if they suspect any patient could have meningitis.

ends.

For more information contact: Dr Dell Hood Tel: 025 521 926

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