A mystery illness has struck a small village in Makira, with four reported dead and the township in Kirakira advised to stay indoors while Doctors await test results.

It is understood a team of medical staff from Kirakira are now on the ground and monitoring the situation.

Charles Koroni, in updating concerned family members on Facebook, says that there was an “an influx of patients today. The hospital is full and some sick patients had to return to their village earlier this evening."

Unconfirmed reports states that Doctors suspect that the illness is due to meningococcal septicemia. Meningococcal septicemia, which is characterized by rapid circulatory collapse and a hemorrhagic rash, is a more severe, but less common, form of meningococcal disease.

Doctors say it could start off just as a faint pink rash, as a red or purple spot or blotch, or as pinpricks on the skin. Often people mistake the early signs of the rash for a common ailment – such as a blister, a scratch, a bite mark, a bruise, or even an ingrown hair.

In the final, critical stage, it spreads rapidly into purple bruises, or haemorrhages, which cover the body. The person can go into shock, their blood pressure falls and circulation fails in the body extremities – the fingers, toes and limbs. Amputations or death may be a result.

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria (not by a virus), and transmitted via saliva. The bacteria are spread by activities such as sneezing, coughing, and sharing food or drinks. Environments where people are in close contact, such as market place, schools, parties and nightclubs, make it easier for the bacteria to spread.

Health authorities say an appropriate response will be made once test results become available.

“Until then, our advice is for relatives of those affected to get tested immediately and for those patients suspected of carrying the bacteria to be isolated and treated,” stated one senior health official spoken to.

It is understood tests results will be known this week, with health authorities on high alert.