Tumut man struck down with meningococcal recovering well

AN 18-year-old man who recently presented at Tumut Hospital with meningococcal disease is recovering well and all his identified close contacts have received clearance antibiotics.

The health service said it worked to identify 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, and all contacts were asked to be aware of symptoms and seek medical advice immediately if symptoms occurred.

The antibiotics eliminate the bacteria from the throat and prevent it from being transmitted to others. The health service said other contacts were considered to be of a very low risk of developing the illness and were provided with an information sheet on meningococcal disease and contact details for the public health unit, if required.

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, the health service said 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.

The health service said early identification and treatment of the disease is vital and in most cases the infection is effectively treated with antibiotics.

People who are experiencing a 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.

The $17 million NSW Meningococcal W Response Program has provided for vaccination of older adolescents. The vaccine was offered to students in Years 11 and 12 in 2017, and 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.

For more information download a NSW Health Fact Sheet:https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/meningococcal_disease. Aspx.