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Community urged to stay alert for meningococcal symptoms

Central Coast Local Health District is urging people to be alert to the symptoms of
meningococcal disease and act immediately if they appear.

Since the start of December 2022, there have been two cases of meningococcal on the
Central Coast.

Children under five and 15 to 25-year-olds are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.
District Director of Public Health, Dr Kathryn Taylor 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 Taylor said.

Meningococcal disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated. Indicators of serious illness
include fever, a fast heart rate, cold hands and feet or a mottled look to the skin, difficulty
waking or increased lethargy or confusion. 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 Taylor said.

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

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and community from the
harmful effects of meningococcal disease.

Under the National Immunisation Program, meningococcal ACWY (Men ACWY) vaccine is
provided free for babies at 12 months, adolescents, and people of all ages with certain
medical conditions. In NSW, the adolescent dose is delivered through the school vaccination
program in Year 10.

Aboriginal children up to the age of two years, and people with certain medical conditions,
can also access free meningococcal B (Men B) vaccine. All children from six weeks of age
can have the Men B vaccine to reduce the risk of infection.

For more information on vaccination or symptoms, transmission, risks and treatment of
Meningococcal, see the NSW Health website.

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