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New South Wales issues alert for meningococcal disease

Christian Fernsby |
Australia's New South Wales Ministry of Health (NSW Health) on Sunday issued a warning over meningococcal disease, urging locals to stay alert for related symptoms, after three cases have been recently reported across the state.

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A person, aged between 50 to 59, has died from the disease in Sydney, while two more cases, one teenager living in Sydney and one person in their 60s from the Central Coast, are recovering.

NSW Health said that none of these cases are believed to be linked.

So far this year, there have been 19 cases of meningococcal disease reported in the Australian state, with the majority of cases caused by the meningococcal B strain of the infection.

Christine Selvey, director of communicable diseases at NSW Health, said that meningococcal disease is a rare disease with babies, toddlers, adolescents, and young adults being at highest risk.

While vaccination of these age groups has reduced the number of infections each year, the vaccines do not protect against all strains of meningococcal bacteria, and people of all ages can be infected, Selvey warned, urging people to be vigilant for symptoms and seek medical assistance early if they are concerned.

According to NSW Health, meningococcal disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated.

Possible symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, tiredness, joint or limb pain, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting, as well as a rash of red-purple spots or bruises. Babies may also have high-pitched crying.

The health authority also noted that children under five and 15 to 25-year-olds are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.


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