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Meningococcal disease suspected in recruit’s death

27 June 2003 Media Statement

Meningococcal disease suspected in recruit’s death

Minister of Defence Mark Burton is deeply saddened at the news of a young soldier’s death earlier this week from a suspected case of meningococcal disease.

“On behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand, I would like to offer my condolences to this young man’s family, loved ones, and fellow soldiers.”

“I am also greatly concerned for another soldier, who was admitted to hospital yesterday and remains critically ill. To his family, friends, and loved ones, I send my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.”

Both soldiers were part a new intake of recruits at Waiouru military camp. The New Zealand Army and the Wanganui Medical Officer of Health have acted quickly to contain the further spread of the disease.

The Wanganui District Medical Officer of Health, Dr Patrick O’Connor, said a preventative regime of antibiotics would begin today for fellow recruits who may have been in contact with the two soldiers. Detailed briefings on preventative measures and the warning signs and symptoms of the disease have also been given to the recruits and others who may potentially have been affected in the Waiouru military camp.

Dr O’Connor said the recruits had been vaccinated against two strains of the meningococcal disease. However, it appears the recruits contracted strain B for which there is no vaccine available at this time.

“This incident reminds us that meningitis is a very real public health concern,” said Mark Burton.

“While the Army is confident it has done everything to contain the potential further spread of infection, both defence and health care staff remain vigilant.”


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