Vigilance on meningitis
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.