NSW Health issues meningococcal alert after Sydney man dies

NSW Health has urged people to be on alert for symptoms of meningococcal disease after a man died and three cases were diagnosed in the state.

A Sydney man in his fifties has died from the disease, while two Sydney teenagers and a person in their sixties from the Central Coast are recovering.

None of the cases are believed to be linked.

NSW Health Director Communicable Diseases Dr Christine Selvey said meningococcal disease was rare with babies, toddlers, teenagers and young adults being at highest risk.

“Meningococcal disease can be very serious, but early treatment is lifesaving so it is important that symptoms are recognised early,” Dr Selvey said.

“We are urging the NSW community to be vigilant for symptoms, even if they have been vaccinated, and to seek medical assistance early if they are concerned.”

NSW Health said the disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated, with symptoms to look out for including sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, tiredness, joint or limb pain, dislike of bright lights and nausea and vomiting.

Dr Selvey said to call triple-0 if symptoms rapidly worsen, or go to a hospital emergency department.

There have been 19 meningococcal disease cases in NSW this year, the majority being due to the meningococcal B strain of the infection.

Children under five years and 15 to 25-year-olds are at the greatest risk of contracting the 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.

A meningococcal B vaccine is available to children from six weeks of age to reduce the risk of infection from this strain of the disease. Aboriginal infants and people with certain medical conditions are eligible for free access to this vaccine under the National Immunisation Program.

More information on meningococcal disease can be found on the NSW Health website.

Originally published as NSW Health issues meningococcal disease alert after Sydney man dies

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