An example of the rash that may accompany the onset of meningococcal disease.
An example of the rash that may accompany the onset of meningococcal disease.

Three cases of meningococcal

THREE people on the North Coast have recovered from meningococcal disease after prompt recognition of symptoms by family members allowed them to receive early treatment last week.

At this stage details of where the cases occurred had not been released, but the director of public health, Paul Corben, said there were no known links between the cases and all close contacts of the people had been followed up with antibiotics and information. Mr Corben said in all three cases early recognition a family member was becoming very sick, very quickly meant prompt medical treatment had led to a full recovery.

He said although most cases occurred in infants, young children and young adults, people of all ages could be infected.

“Initial symptoms may include pain in the legs, cold hands and feet and abnormal skin colour,” Mr Corben said. “Later symptoms may include the onset of a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, a reddish-purple rash and drowsiness.”

He said the infection was carried in secretions from the nose and throat and close and prolonged contact was needed for the disease to spread.

“It does not spread easily ... and it does not appear to be spread through saliva or by sharing food, drinks or cigarettes.”

There has been four other cases of the disease on the North Coast in 2010 and there was six in 2009.

While vaccinations are available and have proven effective against the C strain of the disease, there is no vaccine for the B strain. Mr Corben said it was important for people to be aware the vaccine did not protect against the B strain.

“People should watch for symptoms even if they have been vaccinated,” he said.

For facts about meningococcal bacteria visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/infectious/meningococcal.html.



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