Child with Meningococcal Disease
A case of meningococcal disease has been confirmed in the Top End of the Northern Territory.
An infant is in Royal Darwin Hospital and sadly remains in a critical condition.
All close contacts of this child have been contacted and provided with clearance antibiotics to prevent further transmission of infection.
This case brings the total number of meningococcal infections for the NT this year to five, with the last four cases all being the W strain. The previous cases have occurred in both the Top End and Central Australia and in both adults and children. None of these cases have been connected.
This contrasts to the peak of cases observed in 2017 with 32 cases of confirmed invasive meningococcal disease with 26 W, three Y and three B strains. In 2018 there were 10 confirmed meningococcal cases which included seven W, two B and one of unknown strain. The strain of the current case is still being confirmed.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is reminding people to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease. Whilst meningococcal is a rare disease, it can be very serious and people can deteriorate very quickly.
“Meningococcal is a bacterial disease that has five strains, A, B, C, W and Y. It is carried by approximately one in 10 people in their nose and throat. Most people who carry this do not get sick, but they are able to spread it to others who may become unwell,” said Dr Rosalind Webby, Acting Director of the CDC.
“Symptoms may include fever, drowsiness, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and the dislike of bright lights. A widespread rash may develop that can look like red/purple spots or bruises and infants and babies may also refuse food and drink and have a high-pitched cry. If concerned please seek medical advice early.
“I would like to remind families that the best protection again meningococcal is vaccination.”
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is available free for all people aged 1-19 years in the NT. Outside this age group, anyone aged over six weeks can receive the vaccination by private script from their GP.
Meningococcal B 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.
Anyone who wants to protect themselves from meningococcal diseases aged over six weeks of age can receive the meningococcal ACWY or B vaccine.
For further information please see https://nt.gov.au/wellbeing/health-conditions-treatments/bacterial/meningococcal-disease