HEALTH experts issue warning following concerns over an increase in the number of W strain cases of meningococcal.
Queensland Health has confirmed a Sunshine Coast resident was diagnosed with W strain meningococcal disease this month and is recovering.
It follows alarm over a spate of cases of the deadly condition in WA, Victoria and NSW.
The Courier Mail reports, Australian Medical Association Queensland spokesman Richard Kidd said the previously uncommon strain had been found to be on the rise in a number of other Australian states, and there could be more.
“It’s here now, so we need to start anticipating that it’s going to be an increasing problem over the next few years as it has been everywhere else,” he said.
“It is a very nasty infection. At least we do have vaccines and hopefully the Government will follow England’s lead and look at building it into our immunisation program.
“Of course, that comes at a cost to the country, but when you see these tragic cases, it’s very hard to put a cost on a young person’s life.”
National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance head Robert Booy said other strains of the virus affected certain age groups, but the W strain affected all ages.
Sadly last week a toddler passed away from meningococcal B strain.
The signs to look out for are: (via Meningococcal Australia)
• lack of energy
• irritability or agitation
• a sore throat
Other symptoms include
•stiff or painful neck
•sensitivity to light
•twitching or convulsions
If anyone suspects meningococcal disease, they should see a doctor immediately and return if symptoms worsen.
In Australia there are vaccines available for each of the 5 main strains of the disease:
Meningococcal C – vaccine protects against meningococcal group C disease. It is recommended for all children at the age of 12 months (as part of the free National Immunisation Program). It is also suitable for teenagers and adults. Contact your GP for more information.
Meningococcal B – vaccine launched in Australia March 2014 which is available by private script from your doctor. This vaccine is not yet subsidised by the Government. For infants, the vaccine is given in four doses – at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months of age. For children over 12 months, teenagers and adults, the vaccine is given in two doses approximately 2 months apart (for the precise timing, check with your GP). Possible side effects are a mild to moderate fever (as well as a sore arm), so your doctor may recommend giving paracetamol at the same time to babies and children under 5.
Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine – is a combination vaccine and protects against groups A, C, Y and W. See your doctor for advice as this is generally recommended when travelling overseas to certain areas. This vaccine is not subsidised by the Government.
Please be aware of the symptoms.
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