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Meningococcal Disease Down 79% in BOP

Meningococcal Disease Down 79% in BOP

Ron Law - Independent Risk & Policy Analyst

"Continued analysis of data provided by the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health reveals a dramatic 79% decline in meningococcal disease cases attributed to the epidemic strain of bacteria since peak levels in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region," says Independent Risk & Policy Analyst Ron Law.

The decline is 73% for all notified cases which include disease caused by other strains of disease and suspected or unconfirmed cases.

These declines far exceeds the hoped for 60% decline following the MeNZB(tm) campaign which is to begin next month.

"The Ministry of Health's own data makes a mockery of the Minister of Health's continued claims that the meningococcal epidemic is not abating," says Ron Law [09-832 4773]

The total number of reported cases peaked in the Bay of Plenty in 2002 at 51. In 2004 there were only 8 cases due to the strain of bacteria targeted by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine -- for all age groups. [see attachments]

There has been a parallel 83% natural decline in cases due to the epidemic [MeNZB(tm)] strain in the Lakes [Rotorua] District Health Board area and an 80% decline in total notified cases.

The Minister of Health has refused to release the details of the number of deaths in identified district health boards due to the strain of bacteria targeted by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine under the pretence that releasing such information would breach the Privacy Act.

This is absurd given the fact that the Ministry of Health has shamelessly used high profile cases of meningococcal disease caused by strains other than the one targeted by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine to create fear to increase public uptake of the experimental vaccine.

There was one death due to meningococcal disease in the Bay of Plenty DHB region in 2004... a woman in her 50's. Due to the Minister hiding behind the skirts of the Privacy Act it is not known what strain of bacteria caused this death.

The meningococcal disease death rate across the country is now at the lowest level since the epidemic began.

"Contrary to the Minister of Health's statements of denial, the epidemic is abating -- naturally and quickly," says Ron Law.

"The Minister's recent refusal to release publicly important information, including minutes of a contentious meeting of her expert advisory committee, is a continuation of attempts by her officials to prevent the public learning the facts regarding the true extent of the meningococcal disease targeted by the MeNZB(tm) vaccine and the natural rapid and sustained decline in the meningococcal disease epidemic preceding the introduction of the MeNZB(tm) vaccine."

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