What you need to know about Meningococcal disease
MENINGOCOCCAL disease is a bacterial infection that can cause death within ours if not recognised and treated immediately.
The potentially fatal disease has returned to front pages after a Sunshine Coast woman was consumed by Meningococcal in just days last week.
- It is most likely to affect infants and adolescents.
- 10% of population carry "meningococcus" in their throat or nose, without showing symptoms.
- There are two types -- Meningococcal septicaemia and Meningococcal meningitis.
- The risk of death is 1 in 13, or 8% overall. It is up to 20% for those with septicaemia.
- Since a vaccine was introduced in 2001, a specific form of meningococcal disease (type C) has fallen from 162 cases in 2002 to nine cases in 2011.
- Local GPs are best to advise on vaccinations for meningococcal.
Meningococcal Septicaemia (blood poisoning) is a medical emergency.
Septicaemia happens when the bacteria enter the bloodstream, later causing bleeding into the skin, which causes a distinctive rash.
Meningitis is the inflaming of brain lining and spinal cord.
- Forms include fungal, viral and bacterial - bacterial meningitis is the most serious.
Symptoms of Meningococcal septicaemia:
- Shivering, chills, cold hands or feet, skin colour change
- Sudden, severe pain in arms, legs, joints and stomach
- Fever, thirst, nausea, vomiting, maybe diarrhoea
- Drowsiness, loss of consciousness, rapid breathing
Spots or pinprick rash (develops to purple blotches)
Symptoms of Meningococcal meningitis
- Severe headache
- Stiff or painful neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Drowsiness, loss of consciousness, convulsions
- A rash may develop in the later stages
- Get urgent medical advice from your doctor or hospital if you or someone you know is showing symptoms of Meningococcal.
- Return to the doctor or seek a second opinion if symptoms progress
Patients with meningococcal disease need urgent treatment with intravenous antibiotics.
If the rash appears, in conjunction with other symptoms such as a high fever, call an ambulance for urgent treatment.
- In cases where meningococcal disease is suspected, it is recommended that antibiotic treatment be started before the diagnosis is confirmed by tests.