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Tasmania: Meningitis

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    Posted: September 11 2018 at 3:52pm
Tasmanian girl confirmed as eighth case of meningococcal disease
By James Dunlevie

Updated about 2 hours ago

Photo: Authorities say people who suspect they or others may have the disease should seek immediate medical attention.

There is a eighth confirmed case of meningococcal disease in Tasmania.

A four-year-old girl from East Devonport is in a stable condition at the Royal Hobart Hospital after being diagnosed with the disease.

It is the eight case in the state in two months, but the first outside the greater Hobart area, in the state's north-west.

Sara Beltz, 16, died from the disease in July.

In a statement, acting director of public health Scott McKeown said health services were working with the four-year-old's family to "ensure they and other close contacts are properly managed to minimise the risk of further infection".

"The strain of meningococcal disease contracted by the girl is not yet known," Dr McKeown said.

A statewide vaccination program for meningococcal ACWY strains is currently underway following an outbreak in the southern Tasmania suburbs of New Town, Moonah and Glenorchy, Dr McKeown said.

"Under that program, all Tasmanians born after August 1, 1997 and at least six weeks old are eligible for a free meningococcal vaccination covering the strains A, C, W and Y. All Tasmanians within this age bracket are strongly advised to get the free vaccine."

He said people in this age group, particularly infants and late teenagers, were "usually at higher risk of meningococcal disease, and can also contribute to spread of meningococcal bacteria in the community".

    "A targeted vaccination program gives people in this higher risk group direct protection, and also reduces the wider community risk," he said.

Meningococcal disease is rare but serious. On average, Tasmania has about six cases of meningococcal disease a year.
What is meningococcal disease?

It has a range of strains, symptoms and vaccination options.

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.

Authorities urge people who suspect they or others may have contracted meningococcal disease, to seek emergency medical care immediately.

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