Child with Meningococcal Disease

Department of Health

Acase of meningococcal disease has been confirmed in the Top End of the NorthernTerritory.

Aninfant is in Royal Darwin Hospital and sadly remains in a critical condition.

Allclose contacts of this child have been contacted and provided with clearanceantibiotics to prevent further transmission of infection.

Thiscase brings the total number of meningococcal infections for the NT this yearto five, with the last four cases all being the W strain. The previous caseshave occurred in both the Top End and Central Australia and in both adults andchildren. None of these cases have been connected.

Thiscontrasts to the peak of cases observed in 2017 with 32 cases of confirmedinvasive meningococcal disease with 26 W, three Y and three B strains. In 2018there were 10 confirmed meningococcal cases which included seven W, two B andone of unknown strain. The strain of the current case is still being confirmed.

TheCentre for Disease Control (CDC) is reminding people to be aware of the earlysigns and symptoms of meningococcal disease. Whilst meningococcal is a rare disease,it can be very serious and people can deteriorate very quickly.

Meningococcalis a bacterial disease that has five strains, A, B, C, W and Y. It is carriedby approximately one in 10 people in their nose and throat. Most people whocarry this do not get sick, but they are able to spread it to others who maybecome unwell, said Dr Rosalind Webby, Acting Director of the CDC.

Symptomsmay include fever, drowsiness, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and thedislike of bright lights. A widespread rash may develop that can look likered/purple spots or bruises and infants and babies may also refuse food anddrink and have a high-pitched cry. If concerned please seek medical adviceearly.

Iwould like to remind families that the best protection again meningococcal isvaccination.

Themeningococcal ACWY vaccine is available free for all people aged 1-19 years inthe NT. Outside this age group, anyone aged over six weeks can receive thevaccination by private script from their GP.

MeningococcalB vaccine is available on the private market for people from six weeks of age,please visit your GP for a private script to obtain this vaccine.

Anyonewho wants to protect themselves from meningococcal diseases aged over six weeksof age can receive the meningococcal ACWY or B vaccine.

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