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Tasmania’s Public Health Director is urging parents not to panic after the death of a Hobart teenager from a suspected meningococcal infection.

The girl died sadly in Hobart on Thursday.

Health authorities said laboratory results had shown evidence of meningococcal and further testing was being done to determine what strain of the disease it was, reports ABC news.

A small number of people who were in contact with the girl have been given antibiotics in case they are carrying the infection.

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But the Director of Public Health Dr Mark Veitch said linked cases were uncommon.

“It’s shocking and very unfortunate in the outcome for the persons involved, the family, but it’s not a reason for widespread panic,” Dr Veitch said.

“If it opens up the discussion between parents or Tasmanians generally and their general practitioner about the merits or a meningococcal vaccine for them and their children well that’s a good thing to talk about.”

It is the state’s first case of meningococcal for the year, after 16 confirmed cases last year.

The five strains

There are five main strains of meningococcal: A, B, C, W and Y.

Since July 1, a vaccine against the A, C, W, and Y strains has been made available free to children aged 12 months, through the national immunisation program.

The Tasmanian Government funds the vaccine for teenagers aged 15 to 19.

Meningococcal Australia is urging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the infection.

“Time is critically important with meningococcal,” the director of Meningococcal Australia, Eliza Ault-Connell said.

“You can be relatively healthy at breakfast and dead by dinner.”

Meningococcal symptoms can include:

  • Fever, headache, vomiting/nausea and neck stiffness, particularly in older patients
  • Irritability, poor feeding or lethargy; particularly in younger children
  • Drowsiness, confusion and severe muscle or joint pain
  • The blotchy rash is also a symptom, but may not appear in all cases

  • Is there vaccinations for every strain of it? Such infections spread so rapidly in little ones that it isn’t always spotted soon enough, especially if the little one is a good sleeper and doesn’t wake up any earlier because of it.

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  • Heartbreaking ! My thoughts go out to do family.

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  • My thoughts go out to the family. Such sad news

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  • How tragic. Such a horrible disease. My thoughts are with her family and friends.

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  • It’s hard to pick up the symptoms of meningococcal and that’s why it is so deadly.

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  • Lets hope there are no more cases this year. I got my teens vaccinated during the free ACWY program and paid for my 7 year old to have his in January. He’s just had his 2nd Meningococcla B too, and I will be getting my teens vaccinated against the B strain as well – especially as they will be at Uni and 1 will be in shared accommodation.

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  • Very sad to hear of a young life lost. Important we read what the symptoms include so we can get help quickly if needed.

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  • So sorry for the family’s loss

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  • Every sympathy to the family of this poor girl – such a horrible disease.

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  • These should be free for everyone. Why should people,risk dying because the gov chooses who can receive it freely. It’s a sad thing to see.

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  • No mention if the girl had been vaccinated or not?

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