NSW toddler dead after meningococcal diagnosis

A toddler has died after contracting meningococcal disease in NSW, health authorities have confirmed.

The child died last week in the Hunter New England region and was the fourth case of meningococcal in the area so far this year.

“This is a tragic event and our sympathies are with the child’s family at this very difficult time,” public health physician Dr David Durrheim said in a statement.

The child’s family have been medicated to prevent further spread of the illness.

In August last year, 19-year-old university student Mischelle Rhodes died at Gosford Hospital. The same month, a 38-year-old woman also died of the condition in the Hunter New England area.

Meningococcal disease is uncommon in NSW A total of 22 people contracted meningococcal so far this year.

A total of 15 people have died of meningococcal in NSW since January 2017, including three deaths in children under five, according to NSW Health.

The bacteria are not easily spread from person to person as they do not survive well outside the human body.

Bacteria are passed between people in the secretions from the back of the nose and throat from prolonged contact with an affected person, usually living in the same household.

Most cases occur in infants, young children, teenagers and young adults, although people of any age can be affected.

Symptoms 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.

Babies with the infection may be irritable, not feed properly and have an abnormal cry.

Last July, the federal government expanded the protection offered to infants under the National Immunisation Program to include meningococcal strains A, W and Y, in addition to meningococcal C that has been offered since 2003.

 A free ACWY vaccine is available for older high school students since 2017 in response to an increase in cases of meningococcal W in recent years.

It is not yet known which meningococcal strain was responsible.

SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald

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