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Meningococcal disease case confirmed as MenW strain

Meningococcal disease case confirmed as MenW strain

Tests have confirmed that the patient admitted to Palmerston North Hospital this week with meningococcal disease has contracted the MenW strain.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Robert Weir, said the MidCentral District Health Board Public Health team is following up with people who may have been in contact with the patient.

“Public Health is offering vaccinations to those identified as close contacts, as is the standard procedure for cases such as this.” Dr Weir said.

“It’s important to note that this is a single case, and all efforts are being made to inform those who have had close contact with the patient.”

The patient has since been transferred to Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes two serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the membranes that cover the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

“Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. It can look like the flu early on but quickly gets much worse. It is important for anyone with symptoms to seek urgent medical attention,” Dr Weir said.

Symptoms included some or all of the following: fever; headache; vomiting; feeling sleepy, confused and delirious; loss of consciousness; joint pains; aching muscles; stiff neck; dislike of bright lights; or rashes, purple or red spots, or bruises.

Other symptoms in babies and infants include being unsettled, floppy or irritable, refusing drinks and feeds, and becoming harder to wake.

Children who have previously received meningococcal vaccination can still get meningococcal disease because the vaccine does not protect against all types of meningococcal bacteria. Therefore, be on the lookout for signs or symptoms of meningococcal illness even if your child has previously been vaccinated.

Healthline can also be called freephone on 0800 611 116 at any hour of the day or night – even if you have already been seen by a health professional.

If you have seen a doctor and gone home, but are still concerned, don't hesitate to call your doctor again or seek further medical advice.

The Ministry of Health website also has useful information: http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/meningococcal(external link)


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