Meningococcal case diagnosed on Northern Rivers
UPDATE 9.42am: THE North Coast Public Health Unit confirmed a Maclean resident has been admitted to Lismore Base Hospital with meningococcal disease.
Assistant Director, North Coast Public Health Unit, Greg Bell said all close contacts of the person have been identified and given clearance antibiotics, and other contacts have been given information in regards to the disease.
He said meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person to person or by sharing drinks, food or cigarettes, and the bacteria do not survive well outside the human body.
Close contacts generally include those who live in the same household, attend the same care group in childcare, or are sexual contacts of the ill person.
People in the same school class, sporting team, or casual social contacts of the ill person are considered lower-risk contacts.
Mr Bell said meningococcal disease is very uncommon in NSW and only one other case has been notified in NNSW LHD this year, and only five cases for the whole of last year.
Childhood immunisation is primarily a Commonwealth Government responsibility. However, in 2017 and 2018 the NSW Government has invested $13 million in a state-wide immunisation program to combat a rise in the W strain of meningococcal disease.
The NSW Meningococcal W Response Program provided Year 11 and 12 students across the state with free vaccines that protect against four strains of meningococcal disease, A, C, W and Y in 2017.
Year 10 and 11 students are being offered the vaccine in 2018.
A single dose of this vaccine provides effective protection against all four strains for at least five years. This age group has been targeted as teenagers are very socially active and therefore both more likely to be exposed to the infection, and also more likely to spread the infection in the community.
Vaccination against meningococcal C is included in the National Immunisation Program Schedule. It is recommended for all children at one year of age (as part of free routine immunisation).
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterial infection and can lead to serious illness. Anyone with symptoms is advised to see a doctor urgently.
Symptoms of meningococcal disease are non-specific but may include sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, joint pain, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, dislike of bright lights nausea and vomiting.
For more information on Meningococcal go online or call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.
ORIGINAL STORY 7.16am: HEALTH authorities are urging people to be on alert after a Maclean resident was diagnosed with meningococcal disease.
Greg Bell from the North Coast Public Health told ABC North Coast it was only the second case recorded in the region so far this year.
He said anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
"A fever that comes on very quickly, headache, neck stiffness, joint pain and of course there's the rash that people probably talk about," Mr Bell told the ABC.
"It's sort of a purplish rash, like a bruising type rash.
"I cannot emphasise enough that really and truly if you have these symptoms... we would much rather you ring your doctor, get advice from your doctor or if there is no doctor on duty at the time present to the emergency department."
NSW Health's website explains that meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterial infection and can lead to serious illness.
"It is uncommon in NSW, and occurs more often in winter and spring," the website states.
"Infants, small children, adolescents and young adults are most at risk.
"Early treatment is vital."
The fact sheet lists the symptoms as:
- Sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, joint pain, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, dislike of bright lights nausea and vomiting
- Young children may have less specific symptoms. These may include irritability, difficulty waking, high-pitched crying, and refusal to eat.
- The typical meningococcal rash doesn't disappear with gentle pressure on the skin. Not all people with meningococcal disease get a rash or the rash may occur late in the disease.
- Sometimes the classic symptoms may follow less specific symptoms including leg pain, cold hands and abnormal skin colour.