Young Northland child admitted with meningococcal infection

Press Release – Northland DHB

A four year old child from the Mid North has been admitted to Whangarei Hospital with meningococcal disease. The child was admitted to the hospital on November 15, his current condition is comfortable and improving.17 November 2011

Young Northland child admitted with meningococcal infection

A four year old child from the Mid North has been admitted to Whangarei Hospital with meningococcal disease. The child was admitted to the hospital on November 15, his current condition is comfortable and improving.

Dr Clair Mills, Northland DHB medical officer of health, said this is the thirteenth case in Northland since July. Nine of these have been the Group C strain. “We are waiting to hear from the national laboratory about what type this child has.”

“This latest case shows the disease is still around in our community.”

“Meningococcal disease can be rapidly life-threatening, and we ask that Northlanders remain very vigilant. The disease can occur at any age, most commonly in children under the age of five years and teenagers.”

“Disease symptoms in babies and young children may include fever, irritability, sleepiness, floppiness, being hard to wake, refusing drink or food, vomiting and a rash. Older children and adults can have similar symptoms and may also have a stiff neck, headache and muscle aches, and sensitivity to light.”

“Anyone with some of these symptoms should seek medical attention without delay as early treatment is very important,” says Dr Mills.

Northland DHB’s free meningococcal C vaccination programme continues, aiming to vaccinate 85% of the 44,000 Northlanders aged 12 months to up to 20 years of age against Meningococcal C disease.

To date, over 21,000 children and young people have been vaccinated either at their school, a community clinic or by their general practitioner – this is 56% of the target. The campaign will finish in just over four weeks, on December 16th.

Community Clinics – where people can go to be vaccinated this coming week:
Clinics for 19th – 26th November below

Saturday 19th November

KAIKOHE:
Te Hau Ora O Kaikohe (Opposite New World)
Sat 10 – 1pm

WHANGAREI:
Onerahi Shopping Centre
10am – 2pm

HIKURANGI:
Hikurangi Market
8am – 12noon

WHANGAREI:
Shop 4 The Strand Arcade
Cameron Street
Sat 10-1pm

Week of 21st- 26th November

KAIKOHE:
Te Hau Ora O Kaikohe
(Opposite New World)
Mon – Fri 9am – 3pm
Thurs 12-6pm
Sat 10 – 1pm

WHANGAREI:
Shop 4 The Strand Arcade
Cameron Street
Mon-Friday 10 – 5
Sat 10-1pm

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium (germ) Neisseria meningitidis. It can cause meningitis (infection of the membrane around the brain) or septicaemia (blood poisoning). It is a serious disease and can cause death or permanent disability, such as deafness.

The meningococcal C vaccine being used (Meningitec ®) has a very good safety record and has been widely used in Europe, UK and Australia since 1999. The vaccine does not contain live bacteria and it is not possible to get the disease from the vaccine. Only one dose is required to give protection in children over 12 months of age.

Meningococcal comes in different types such as B and C and the vaccine being offered to Northlanders is for meningococcal C disease. The vaccine provides protection after about 10 days. It is 90-95 per cent effective.

This vaccine is different from the MeNZB vaccine given in 2004-5 to control the Type B epidemic. MeNZB only protected against Type B and does not protect against Type C.

Dr Mills says meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose and anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention without delay, as early treatment is very important.
“If, despite earlier treatment, your condition deteriorates, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention again.”

If members of the public are concerned about meningococcal disease, or about the vaccination programme, they can talk to a public health nurse on the NDHB 0800 meningococcal information phone line – 0800 430 123.

This number is a Northland specific toll-free meningococcal line which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People can also get advice from Healthline (0800 611 116).
For more information on meningococcal disease, see:

• Ministry of Health http://www.moh.govt.nz/meningococcal.
• Immunisation Advisory Centre http://www.immune.org.nz/?T=665

Meningococcal Disease Background Information
(Ref IMAC http://www.immune.org.nz/?T=665)

What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It causes severe illnesses most commonly presenting as meningitis (an infection of membranes that cover the brain) and bacteraemia (blood infection), and less commonly pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the sac that contains the heart) and arthritis (swelling of the joints).

The most common strains of bacteria which cause meningococcal disease in New Zealand are Type B and C.

What are the symptoms of Meningococcal disease?
In the early stages meningococcal disease may look like influenza. It can progress quickly and can be difficult to diagnose. It is important to remember that not everyone will develop all the symptoms listed and they may appear in a different order. If an individual develops some of the symptoms listed, especially red or purple spots, get medical help urgently. If you can’t get in touch with the doctor, or are still worried after getting advice, trust your instincts and go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.

In babies, the main symptoms of meningitis may include:

• a high-pitched, moaning cry
• irritable when picked up
• a bulging fontanelle
• drowsy and less responsive – difficult to wake
• floppy and listless, or stiff with jerky movements
• refusing feeds, vomiting
• skin that is pale, blotchy or turning blue
• fever

In babies, the main symptoms of bacteraemia may include:

• rapid or unusual patterns of breathing
• skin that is pale, blotchy or turning blue
• fever with cold hands and feet
• shivering
• vomiting, refusing feeds
• red or purple spots
• pain or irritability from muscle aches or severe limb/joint pain
• floppiness
• severe sleepiness.

In older children, adolescents and adults, the main symptoms of meningitis may include:

• a stiff neck (check that they can kiss their knees or touch their forehead with their knees)
• a very bad headache
• dislike of bright lights
• vomiting
• fever
• feeling drowsy, less responsive and confused
• a rash

In older children, adolescents and adults, the main symptoms of bacteraemia may include:

• sleepiness, less responsive, vacant or confused
• severe aches and pains in the arms, legs and joints
• very cold hands and feet
• shivering
• rapid breathing
• red or purple spots
• vomiting
• fever
• diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

For further information about meningococcal disease visit the Ministry of Health website http://www.moh.govt.nz/meningococcal.

ENDS

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