Vig­i­lance on menin­gi­tis

Hastings Leader - - News -

Hawke’s Bay Dis­trict Health board is re­mind­ing res­i­dents to be vig­i­lant af­ter reports peo­ple are show­ing pos­si­ble symp­toms of a new strain of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease.

While Group B is the most com­mon type, there has been a sharp in­crease in cases of group W meningo­coc­cal dis­ease (MenW).There have been no re­ported out­breaks in Hawke’s Bay, but peo­ple should be cau­tious. There have been 24 MenW cases to Novem­ber 5 na­tion­wide, and six deaths. Twelve cases were re­ported last year, with three deaths.

Meningo­coc­cal dis­ease can cause death or per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity, such as deaf­ness. It is more com­mon in chil­dren un­der five, teenagers and young adults.

The an­nual num­ber of cases has in­creased steadily since 2014, when 45 cases were re­ported.

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Health Dr Caroline McEl­nay said peo­ple should also boost their knowl­edge of the dis­ease to en­sure peo­ple seek swift med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

“Meningo­coc­cal dis­ease can progress very quickly and may ini­tially look like other ill­nesses.” Com­mon symp­toms in­clude a high fever, headache, fa­tigue and joint and mus­cle pains.

More spe­cific symp­toms in­clude vom­it­ing, a stiff neck and a rash con­sist­ing of red­dish-pur­ple pin-prick spots or bruises. North­land has been the worst af­fected, with seven cases so far this year, in­clud­ing three deaths. Four of the cases were re­ported there in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

The Min­istry of Health said that 20,000 doses of vac­cine would be made avail­able in North­land.

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