Statement regarding meningococcal disease – Update

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The Centre for Disease Control has today identified that the child who died on the weekend had meningococcal ‘B’ strain, confirming that it was not related to the current outbreak in central Australia (which is the “W” strain). The case in Darwin is being treated as an isolated incident.

The Centre for Disease Control’s response to this incident has been managed based on the National Guidelines. Close contacts including family members and children in close contact at a child care centre were identified and offered clearance antibiotics.  Now that the strain has been identified, these contacts will be provided with information and offered vaccination against the meningococcal B strain. This is not the same vaccine that is being used in the response to the Central Australian outbreak which covers the A,C,W and Y serogroups.

Separately, an adult resident of Darwin was admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital on Tuesday evening and tests today confirmed meningococcal disease.  The Centre for Disease Control has established that this is an isolated case with no connection either to the outbreak in Central Australia or the recent case in Darwin.

Dr Charles Douglas, Centre for Disease Control Community Physician, said that individuals and parents should not be alarmed but should remain vigilant.

“Meningococcal is difficult to contract; it is not like the common cold or flu. To contract the meningococcal disease there must be prolonged contact with someone who is infected.”

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but very serious disease. It is treatable with antibiotics but the infection can progress very quickly. It is important for people to be aware of the symptoms and to seek medical advice early for either themselves or their children if they have any concerns.

Symptoms may include fever, headache, neck stiffness, an aversion to bright lights, a rash and joint pain. Those affected may also have vomiting and diarrhoea, be difficult to wake up and babies may refuse food and drink and have a high pitched cry.

At this time of extreme sadness, the Darwin family of the child who died have asked that their privacy be respected.

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