Meningo­coc­cal pa­tient re­cov­er­ing

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

THE first case of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease in WA this year has been re­ported by the Health Depart­ment.

It only iden­ti­fied the per­son as a young adult, who was re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing his di­ag­no­sis on Jan­uary 12.

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.

Meningo­coc­cal bac­te­ria are car­ried harm­lessly in the back of the nose and throat by about 10-20 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion at any one time. On rare oc­ca­sions, the bac­te­ria in­vade the blood­stream and cause se­ri­ous in­fec­tions.

The in­ci­dence of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease has de­creased sig­nif­i­cantly in WA over the past decade, with around 20 cases re­ported each year – down from a peak of 86 cases in 2000.

In July last year, South­ern River res­i­dents Barry and Lor­raine Young, from the Amanda Young Foun­da­tion, pushed for the vac­cine for meningo­coc­cal B to be put on the Na­tional Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Pro­gram, but their push was re­jected.

The cou­ple played an in­stru­men­tal part in in­tro­duc­ing the meningo­coc­cal C vac­cine to Aus­tralia in 2003. Since it was made avail­able on the NIP the dis­ease has vir­tu­ally been elim­i­nated.

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

Symp­toms can in­clude high fever, chills, headache, neck stiff­ness, vom­it­ing, drowsi­ness, con­fu­sion and se­vere mus­cle and joint pains.

Young chil­dren may not com­plain of symp­toms. Fever, pale or blotchy com­plex­ion, vom­it­ing, lethargy and a rash are im­por­tant signs.

Some­times, but not al­ways, symp­toms may be ac­com­pa­nied by the ap­pear­ance of a spotty red­pur­ple rash.

Al­though treat­able with an­tibi­otics, meningo­coc­cal in­fec­tion pro­gresses very rapidly.

It is im­por­tant that any­one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing th­ese symp­toms seeks im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

With ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment, most peo­ple with the dis­ease re­cover, al­though around 5 per cent will die.

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