The New Zealand Ministry of Health has issued a
warning to local doctors to be on the lookout for a new and potentially
dangerous virus, which has infected at least 50 people in the country.
A senior public health advisor, Doug Lush, said in a press release issued by the
ministry here Monday that symptoms of Echo 33 can include diarrhea, headache,
fever and a rash, but the virus can also cause a type of meningitis, which is
different from the potentially fatal meningococcal meningitis.
The illness differs from meningococcal meningitis in that a virus, and not
bacteria causes it, he said.
Echo 33 is not spread through sneezing and coughing, but through poor hygiene,
Lush said, adding handwashing and good personal hygiene is the best way to stop
the virus from spreading.
While most victims do not need treatment, some people, particularly small
children, may have to be hospitalized if they contract Echo 33, according to the
public health advisor.