A four year-old girl from East Devonport has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and is in a stable condition in the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Acting director of public health, Dr Scott McKeown, said a public health response was underway following the confirmation of a case of meningococcal disease.
“Public Health Services is currently working with the girl’s family to ensure they and other close contacts are properly managed to minimise the risk of further infection,” Dr McKeown said.
“The strain of meningococcal disease contracted by the girl is not yet known.
“The case is the eighth case of meningococcal disease to occur in Tasmania this year and the first to occur in the State’s North West.”
He said statewide vaccination program for meningococcal ACWY strains was currently underway following an outbreak in the southern Tasmania suburbs of New Town, Moonah and Glenorchy.
Under that program, all Tasmanians born after 1 August, 1997 and at least six weeks old are eligible for a free meningococcal vaccination covering the strains A, C, W and Y.
He said all Tasmanians within this age bracket are strongly advised to get the free vaccine.
“People in this age group, particularly infants and late-teenagers, are usually at higher risk of meningococcal disease, and can also contribute to spread of meningococcal bacteria in the community,” Dr McKeown said.
“A targeted vaccination program gives people in this higher risk group direct protection, and also reduces the wider community risk.”
Meningococcal disease is rare but serious. On average, Tasmania has about six cases of meningococcal disease a year.
Cases of meningococcal disease are slightly more common during winter and spring, but can occur at any time in any place and affect people of any age.
The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include fever, severe headache, confusion, severe muscle pain, and rash. People who contract meningococcal disease typically progress from feeling well to feeling extremely unwell very quickly.
Babies and infants may not have these symptoms but can be unsettled or drowsy, pale or blotchy, floppy and not feeding.
Dr McKeown said that if you suspect that you or someone you care for may have contracted meningococcal disease, seek emergency medical care immediately.