An 18-year-old man who presented at Tumut Hospital last week has been confirmed as having meningococcal disease.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) said it’s working to contact people who were in close contact with the man before he became ill to provide clearance antibiotics.
Clearance antibiotics are different to the antibiotics used to treat the infection, so all contacts should be aware of symptoms and seek medical advice immediately if they occur, the health service advised.
These antibiotics eliminate the bacteria from the throat and prevent it from being transmitted to others.
“Other contacts are considered to be of a very low risk of developing the illness and have been provided with an information sheet on meningococcal disease and contact details for the public health unit, if required,” a health spokesperson said.
“The bacteria are passed between people via secretions from the back of the nose and throat which generally requires close and prolonged contact.
“Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread by sharing drinks, food or cigarettes.”
Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include some of the following:
• Sudden onset of fever;
• Severe headache;
• Weakness, drowsiness, confusion or coma;
• Nausea and vomiting;
• Dislike of bright lights;
• Rash of red-purple spots; and
• A stiff neck
Early identification and treatment of the disease is vital and in most cases the infection is effectively treated with antibiotics.
People who are experiencing these symptoms should contact their local GP and or present at their local Emergency Department.
Vaccination for meningococcal disease, types A, C, W and Y is available for children as a single dose on the NSW immunisation schedule at 12 months of age.
Commenced in 2017, the $17 million Adolescent Meningococcal ACWY program provides for vaccination of students in Years 11 and 12. This year, the program was extended to students in Years 10 and 11 in 2018.
Any adolescents aged 15 to 19 years who miss the vaccine in school are eligible for a free Vaccine from their GP.
This year, NSW and Commonwealth Governments invested $130 million in immunisation programs.