Auckland woman dies after typhoid illness

A woman in Auckland has died after contracting typhoid in the Pacific Islands.

She was hospitalised with some serious health issues and the typhoid infection was another complicating factor, Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Clinical Director Dr Julia Peters says.

She died on Tuesday last week, but the announcement was delayed until after her funeral.

ARPHS has also revealed there are now 15 confirmed cases of typhoid in Auckland. There are also two cases awaiting test results.

The woman was a member of the Mt Roskill Samoan Assembly of God church at the centre of last week's typhoid outbreak, Dr Peters says.

They came from Mt Roskill, Blockhouse Bay, and Manurewa.

"We are working with the church to trace other people who may be infected and we are doing this while they are mourning the loss of one of their own," Dr Peters says.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says it is not a water-borne outbreak.

"Someone has come back from the Pacific Islands with the disease and then it's been passed person to person. That's the mode of transition.

"Public health officials are dealing with people who had been exposed to those who have been diagnosed with typhoid, but the advice remains anyone who has any symptoms they're concerned about should contact Healthline for any further advice, but there's no wider risk to the public," he says.

He says he is yet to be informed why the public announcement of the death was left for a week. 

"I think [ARPHS] should be communicating very clearly with people on issues. But there's probably some communications issues they need to take on board from this whole episode.

"Typhoid - obviously that word concerns people so it's important communications in this instance are really clear."

The funeral took place on Monday. Dr Peters says ARPHS delayed announcing the death to enable funeral arrangements to be concluded. "We extend our sympathy to the woman’s family and church community."

Dr Peters says it seems likely that, as a group of cases emerged around the same time late last week, they had been infected at the same time or place.

The agency is presently aiming to implement "protective measures to limit any further spread of typhoid within Auckland's Pacific community".

Symptoms include a high fever developing over several days, headaches, general weakness and muscle aches. Stomach pain and constipation are also common but some people get diarrhoea.

Dr Peters urges anyone with those symptoms feeling very unwell to see their doctor or an after-hours clinic, or contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.