Tenth case of meningococcal disease reported in WA this year

As of March 2014, there are vaccines available which protect against all major strains of meningococcal disease.

As of March 2014, there are vaccines available which protect against all major strains of meningococcal disease.

THE WA health department has reported that an older teenager has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and has now been discharged from hospital.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness due to a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

There were 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

The department has identified the person’s close contacts and provided them with information and antibiotics that minimise the chance that the organism might be passed on to others.

To read our story about a Capel mum's meningococcal scare, click here. 

Meningococcal bacteria are carried harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat by about 10-20 per cent of the population at any one time.

Very rarely, the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause serious infections.

Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person-to-person.

The bacterium is present in droplets discharged from the nose and throat when coughing or sneezing, but is not spread by saliva and does not survive more than a few seconds in the environment.  

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, older teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains. Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy (blank staring, floppiness, inactivity, hard to wake, or poor feeding) and rash are important signs.

Sometimes – but not always – symptoms may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Although treatable with antibiotics, the infection can progress very rapidly, so it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms seeks medical attention promptly. With appropriate treatment, most people make a good recovery.

The incidence of meningococcal disease has decreased significantly in WA over the past decade, with around 20 to 25 cases reported each year – down from a peak of 86 cases in 2000.

There were 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

A vaccine to protect against the C type of meningococcal disease, which in the past was responsible for around 15 per cent of cases in WA, is provided free to children at 12 months of age. 

The story Tenth case of meningococcal disease reported in WA this year first appeared on Bunbury Mail.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop