Fatal meningitis case not infectious
Woman, 28, killed by rare disease
A 28-YEAR-OLD woman has died after contracting a non-contagious case of meningitis in the Douglas region.
The woman presented to Mossman hospital with symptoms and was transported to Cairns Base Hospital recently but doctors could not save her.
Queensland Health principal media advisor Jim Guthrie refused to disclose what type of meningitis caused the death of the woman but revealed it was not contagious and there were no notifiable cases reported from the Douglas region.
Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining around the brain and spinal cord and can be caused by bacteria or viruses.
Bacterial meningitis such as meningococcal is usually serious while viral meningitis is common and generally mild but on rare occasions it can be life-threatening.
Public health medical officer for FNQ Dr Richard Gair said all suspected cases of meningitis require prompt medical assessment.
“In older children and adults symptoms of meningitis can include headache, fever, vomiting, neck stiffness, drowsiness, confusion and discomfort by looking at bright lights,” he said.
“In babies and young children symptoms can include fever, refusing feeds, fretfulness, being difficult to wake and sometimes have a high moaning cry.
“There may also be a rash, particularly with meningococcal meningitis, where there is often a characteristic purplish-red rash.
“The symptoms of viral and bacterial meningitis are quite similar and it’s important people seek medical attention as soon as possible if they are concerned they may have meningitis.”
Early diagnosis and treatment is important and usually requires hospitalisation and antibiotics for bacterial meningitis, however, there are no specific treatments for viral meningitis because antibiotics do not work on viruses.
“The spread of viruses that can cause viral meningitis can be minimised simply by washing your hands thoroughly, with warm soapy water for at least 15 seconds after going to the toilet, blowing your nose and before eating,” Dr Gair said.
“You should also avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which can spread viruses that cause mosquito-borne diseases, some of which involve the brain.”
Bacterial meningitis can result in death, permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy and deafness, while viral meningitis can cause permanent disabilities.
There is also amoebic meningitis, which is well known in hotter states of Australia but is a very rare infection.
It can be caught from stagnant water in waterholes and in poorly chlorinated swimming pools, especially when the water temperature rises above 30c.
Fungal meningitis is very rare and caused by some fungi but mainly occurs when the patient’s immune system has been weakened by disease.
If you have any of the listed symptoms seek medical advice as soon as possible or call the 24-hour hotline for the cost of a local call, on 13 HEALTH (13 432 584).