Meningococcal patient recovering
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.