WA adult hit by deadly meningococcal disease

An adult is in hospital recovering after being diagnosed with the deadly meningococcal disease.

It is the 12th reported case of invasive meningococcal reported in WA this year, and the fourth case of serogroup W.

There have been three serogroup B cases and five serogroup C meningococcal infections making up the total.

A total of 41 cases were notified in WA in 2018, which was less than the 46 cases notified the year before but well above the long- term average for annual cases.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain, and occasionally of other sites such as the throat, lungs or large joints.

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 (inactivity), 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.

The WA Health Department warned that although treatable with antibiotics, meningococcal infections could progress very rapidly, so it is important anyone experiencing symptoms seek medical attention promptly.

“With appropriate treatment, most people with the disease recover, although around 5 to 10 per cent will die and around 15 per cent may experience complications such as hearing loss, or gangrene requiring skin grafts or amputations,” a spokesperson said.

“A vaccine to protect against four serogroups of the meningococcal disease (serogroups A, C, W and Y) is offered free to all children in WA at 12 months of age, with a catch-up program for children who have not yet received the vaccine and who are aged 1-4 years.

“Due to a higher rate of meningococcal disease in Aboriginal people in WA, Aboriginal children are offered vaccination from age 6 weeks to 4 years of age. In addition, the vaccine is offered to all teenagers in Year 10, with a catch up program for 15-19 years.”

SOURCE:  The West Australian Newspaper

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