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Meningococcal alert

NSW Health is urging parents and young people to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease and act immediately if they appear.

So far this year, there have been 29 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW.

A man in his 20s died from meningococcal B disease last week. It’s the second death due to meningococcal disease this year in the state.

Even though there is a vaccination, the disease can occur year round. NSW Health said increases tend to be in late winter and early spring.

There has been a slight increase in cases in recent weeks, compared with the same period over the previous five years.

Children under five and 15 to 25-year-olds are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.

Executive Director of Health Protection NSW, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said early intervention can be lifesaving.

“Meningococcal disease symptoms can appear suddenly and become very serious very quickly. If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the rash – see a doctor immediately,” Dr McAnulty said.

Meningococcal disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated. Knowing the symptoms could help prevent premature death or life-long disability. They include:

Severe, unexplained limb pain

Difficulty waking up

High pitched crying in babies

Severe headache

Upset by bright lights

Stiff neck

Red-purple rash which doesn’t disappear when pressed with a glass

“While it is a well-known symptom of meningococcal disease, the rash does not always occur, or may present late in the illness,” Dr McAnulty said.

“If symptoms rapidly worsen, or if your child is very unwell, call Triple Zero (000) or go straight to your nearest emergency department.”

For details on vaccination or symptoms, transmission, risks and treatment of Meningococcal, visit the NSW Health website.

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