The Department of Health confirm more meningococcal cases

Another three cases of meningococcal have been reported in Western Australia, after two young children and an elderly adult were diagnosed with the disease last week.

The Department of Health have confirmed two of the patients have recovered and been discharged while one remained seriously ill in hospital. 

The incidence of the disease in WA had significantly decreased from a peak of 86 cases in 2000, with a total of 23 meningococcal cases reported in 2016.

However, cases are again on the rise due to the emergence of new virulent strains, with 29 cases reported to date this year.

It is not believed the cases were linked, with patients infected with different serogroups of the meningococcal bacteria.

There have now been 16 cases reported since July, the disease most often occurring during the winter and spring months.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection of the blood and or the membranes lining the spinal cord and brain, and occasionally of other sites like the throat or joints.

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, and older teenagers and young adults, but infection can occur at any age.

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 and rash are important signs to be aware of.

Meningococcal infection can progress very rapidly and anyone experiencing symptoms is urged to seek medical attention promptly.

Eligible teenagers who are no longer at school or who missed the school vaccine program can receive the vaccine at GP clinics, community health clinics and some university student health centres.

For further information about the free Meningococcal vaccine, visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/J_M/Meningococcal-vaccine