Residents are being urged to watch out for signs of meningococcal disease after the North Coast Public Health Unit confirmed that a Maclean resident has been admitted to Lismore Base Hospital with the condition recently.
Assistant Director of North Coast Public Health Unit, Greg Bell said, ‘all close contacts of the person have been identified and given clearance antibiotics, and other contacts have been given information in regards to the disease’.
‘Meningococcal disease is very uncommon in NSW and only one other case has been notified in NNSW LHD this year, and only five cases for the whole of last year,’ Mr Bell said.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterial infection and can lead to serious illness. Anyone with symptoms is advised to see a doctor urgently.
Symptoms are non-specific but may include sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, joint pain, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting.
Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person to person or by sharing drinks, food or cigarettes, and the bacteria do not survive well outside the human body.
Close contacts generally include those who live in the same household, attend the same care group in childcare, or are sexual contacts of the ill person.
People in the same school class, sporting team, or casual social contacts of the ill person are considered lower-risk contacts.
Vaccination against meningococcal C is included in the National Immunisation Program Schedule. It is recommended for all children at one year of age (as part of free routine immunisation).
In addition, the NSW Government has invested $13 million in a statewide immunisation program to combat a rise in the W strain of meningococcal disease.
The NSW Meningococcal W Response Program provides Year 11 and 12 students across the state with free vaccines that protect against four strains of meningococcal disease. Year 10 and 11 students are being offered the vaccine in 2018.
A single dose of this vaccine provides effective protection against all four strains for at least five years. This age group has been targeted as teenagers are very socially active and therefore both more likely to be exposed to the infection, and also more likely to spread the infection in the community.
For more information on Meningococcal refer to this fact sheet or call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.