State's fourth meningococcal case for the year

A child from Gagebrook Primary School in the state’s South has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and hospitalised. 

“Four cases have occurred in Tasmania in 2017, three in the south of the state and one in the north,” acting Public Health director Dr Mark Veitch said. 

Dr Veitch said Public Health Services had responded to the recent case in line with national guidelines, and the child’s closest contacts were given antibiotics. 

There were four or five meningococcal cases diagnosed on average in Tasmania between 2007 and 2016.

Last year there were five cases in Tasmania, with four in the South and one in the North.

Invasive meningococcal disease symptoms can include fever, vomiting, headache, neck pain or stiffness, severe muscle pains, drowsiness or a rash.

Infants and babies may not have many such symptoms but can be unsettled or drowsy, floppy and not interested in feeding.

“People should seek medical attention immediately if they suspect they or their child may have meningococcal symptoms,” Dr Veitch said. 

“In most Australian states, cases of a strain of the meningococcal bacteria called ‘serogroup W’ have increased since 2014.”

“Most of the recent Tasmanian cases of invasive meningococcal disease have been due to meningococcal W.

“Most of these cases have been adults, including older adults.”

“Meningococcal C vaccine is provided free to all children aged 12 months as part of the National Immunisation Program.”

Dr Veitch said the country’s chief medical officer had established a group to examine current trends in meningococcal W, and to coordinate a national response.

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