Department of Health

New meningococcal case in Victoria

07/12/22

The Victorian Department of Health has been notified of a case of meningococcal infection in an 18-year-old who attended Schoolies celebrations in Maroochydore, Queensland.

Although meningococcal infections are uncommon thanks to vaccination, people who attended social venues in Maroochydore between 26 November and 2 December should be alert to symptoms and act immediately if they appear.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may not all be present at once, but may include sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, joint pain, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, dislike of bright lights, nausea, and vomiting.

Young children may have non-specific symptoms. These may include irritability, difficulty waking, high-pitched crying, and refusal to eat. 

“People who suspect symptoms of this disease should immediately seek medical attention – early treatment for meningococcal is life-saving,” Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Associate Professor Deborah Friedman said.

Meningococcal disease can occur year-round, with increases normally seen in late winter and early spring. Children under the age of five and those aged 15 to 25 are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease, although it can affect all age groups. 

“The close contact between young people at events like Schoolies may have placed them at an increased risk of contracting this infection,” Associate Professor Friedman added.

Meningococcal disease is caused by certain strains of bacteria that can be found in the upper respiratory tract in a proportion of the population. It can spread from person to person through close or prolonged contact, such as between household members or intimate partners.

Under the National Immunisation Program, meningococcal ACWY vaccine is provided free for babies at 12 months, adolescents, and people of all ages with certain medical conditions.  

People with certain medical conditions, as well as Aboriginal children up to the age of two years, can also access a free meningococcal B vaccine. Anyone from six weeks of age can have a meningococcal B vaccine to reduce the risk of infection.

“Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community from the harmful effects of meningococcal disease,” Associate Professor Friedman said.

Victoria has reported 14 cases of meningococcal disease so far in 2022.

Additional information is also available on the Better Health Channel.
 

Reviewed 07 December 2022

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