Taranaki District Health BoardThursday 06 September 2012, 5:00PM
Media release from Taranaki District Health Board
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterial germ Neisseria
meningitidis. It can cause meningitis (infection of the membrane
around the brain) or septicaemia (blood poisoning) and rarely,
infection in other sties in the body. It is a serious disease and
can sometimes cause death or permanent disability, such as
deafness, loss of limbs and epilepsy. There are different groups of
meningococcal bacteria, with group B being the most common in New
Zealand (and about a quarter of the cases caused by group C).
Prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent death or permanent
Since 1 September 2011, eight cases of meningococcal disease have
been reported in the Taranaki region with five of these being
confirmed. The age of cases ranged from 12 months to 26 years. None
of these cases have died.
Dr Greg Simmons, Medical officer of Health for Taranaki recommends
high level of vigilance for symptoms of the illness.
"It is important to remember that the early stages of meningococcal
disease may appear as a flu-like illness. Meningococcal disease can
progress very quickly. If an individual is sick, check them often.
Don't hesitate to seek medical attention without delay if you are
concerned. If their condition worsens take them back to the
doctor," said Dr Simmons.
Symptoms and signs of the disease vary, but in children and adults
can include high temperature, headache, neck stiffness, muscle and
joint pain, skin rash, vomiting, drowsiness and convulsions.
Symptoms in babies can be more subtle and in addition to the above,
may present as floppiness, refusing feeds, pale skin and
Young children, teenagers and young adults are most at risk of
developing meningococcal disease.
Anyone concerned that an illness may be meningococcal disease can
obtain advice from Healthline (0800 611 116). More information on
meningococcal disease can be found at: Ministry of
Immunisation Advisory Centre