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The Signs And Symptoms Of Meningcoccal Disease

Remembering The Signs And Symptoms Of Meningcoccal Disease

There have been five cases of meningococcal disease notified to Waikato
District Health Board since the beginning of June.

This is one case less than the 2007 June-July period.

Waikato DHB medical officer of health Anita Bell reminds the public
that even if Waikato experiences no more cases of the MeNZB strain of
meningococcal disease, there will always be cases of other strains.

"It is estimated there will be 5-10 cases of non-MeNZB strains of
meningococcal disease notified per year in the Waikato."

Since the beginning of 2008, there have been seven cases notified in
the region.

In all these cases, the patients were aged six years and under; three
were under one-year-old. Two of the seven cases had received full
vaccination against MeNZB.

Unfortunately, in the two cases fully vaccinated against MeNZB, it was
the MeNZB strain that caused their illness.

"Four out of five of these cases were the MeNZB strain, while one was
another B type of the disease. We are waiting on results for the other
two cases," said Dr Bell.

"It was expected that the MeNZB vaccine would not offer protection to
all those who were vaccinated. At best it would offer about 75 per cent
protection."

Recently, the Ministry of Health reported that protection may be less
for younger people and that vaccine protection is waning.

In 2007, there were 13 cases of meningococcal disease notified,
compared to 27 cases in 2006. The rate of disease declined from 8.0 to
3.8 per 100,000 people during this time.

"It is timely to remind people of the signs and symptoms of
meningococcal disease," said Dr Bell.

"Even if your child has had the MeNZB vaccine they can still get
other strains of meningococcal."

Waikato DHB's Population Health Service sent letters to all schools,
early childcare centres and kohanga reo that they could use to remind
parents and carers of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease,
plus other illnesses.

"Meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) are not always easy to
recognise and symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at
all," said Dr Bell.

"In the early stages, symptoms can be similar to many other more
common illnesses, such as flu."

She said it was important that parents and caregivers trust their
instincts and that if they suspected their child had meningitis or
septicaemia, to get medical help immediately.

Early symptoms can include fever, headache, photophobia (unable to look
at light), nausea, vomiting, a rash and muscle pain, with cold hands and
feet.

A rash that does not fade under pressure can be a sign of meningococcal
septicaemia.

"However, if someone is ill or obviously getting worse, do not wait
for spots or a rash to appear. They may appear late or may not at
all," said Dr Bell.

"If your child is unwell and you are in doubt, please seek medical
advice."

NB: For information regarding MeNZB immunisation, please refer to the
Ministry of Health.

ENDS

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