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A Health warning has been issued following a spike in Meningococcal cases in the past week.

NSW Health is urging people to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease with five new cases reported in NSW in the last seven days.

There have been 39 cases of invasive meningococcal disease and four deaths in NSW so far this year, compared to 27 cases and zero deaths during the same period last year.

NSW Health Director, Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said late winter/early spring was the season when meningococcal disease tended to be most prevalent, although cases presented all year round.

“Most cases occur among infants, young children, teenagers and young adults although people of any age can be infected,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Meningococcal disease can be very severe, and people infected with it can become extremely unwell within hours of the first symptoms appearing so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.”

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include sudden onset of fever, cold hands and feet, limb/joint pain, nausea and vomiting, headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and a pin-prick rash changing to large red-purple blotches that don’t disappear with gentle pressure on the skin. A rash does not always appear or it may occur late in the disease.

Babies and very young children may also experience irritability, have difficulty waking, rapid or laboured breathing, diarrhoea, a high-pitched cry or refuse to eat.

“It is also important to note that not all of the symptoms of meningococcal disease may be present at once,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“If anyone suspects meningococcal disease, they should see a doctor immediately and return if symptoms worsen.”

Dr Sheppeard said the most common serogroups of meningococcal disease in Australia are B, C, W and Y.

“A vaccine is available for meningococcal C which is included in the National Immunisation Program schedule and recommended for all children at one year of age as part of the free routine immunisation. A vaccine against some serogroup B strains has recently become available in Australia, recommended for young children and adults, but is not part of the National Immunisation Program schedule.

“As we don’t routinely vaccinate against all strains of meningococcal disease, it’s important to be on the lookout for the symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated against C and B.”

Find more info on what to look out for HERE.

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  • Concerning !
    The 16 year old daughter of my neighbour was recently admitted to the hospital with meningococcal disease.

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  • yes very sad that this affects anybody. would be good to see this strain’s vaccination go on the register.

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  • Thanks for the health alert and article. Meningococcal is so scary.

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  • It is tragic no matter where an outbreak occurs. Lets hope it hasn’t spread any further and there is no more cases. One is one too many. There is no vaccines for some types and there is probably an mininum age at which it can be given.

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  • oh dear, this is very concerning.

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  • I’m thankful my son was vaccinated for this a while ago. Horrified at the news of this outbreak.

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  • This is a very scary disease.

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  • so scary! Hope it passes quickly

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  • My son at 8 months had meningococcal. It is really scary. His temperature was sky high to begin with (39.5) which left him limp. The doctors were not sure what was wrong to begin with and started him intravenously on strong anti biotics whilst waiting for pathology results. He was already being medicated by the time the rash started to appear which is when people start to lose limbs due to loss of blood flow. We were extremely lucky to have him and he made a full recovery without any long standing affects.


    • I’m so sorry for what your son had to pass through. 8 months? Little one. Glad to hear he recovered completely!!

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  • Good to be aware and know the facts.

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  • Very scary that there has been an increase.
    Anthony from the wiggles was recently hospitalized from this

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  • Thanks for reminding us of the symptoms of this insidious disease.

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  • Scary! My daughter was vaccinated against C but not B.

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  • It is good to know the symptons and to be aware.

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  • Thank you for this reminder to keep an eye out for these symptoms.

    Reply

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