AN infant and an adult have been hospitalised after separately being diagnosed with serogroup W meningococcal disease.
The Health Department says there has been 45 cases this year – almost double the total of 23 meningococcal cases in 2016 – and it attributes the increase to the emergence of new virulent strains of serogroup W and Y bacteria.
Six people have died from meningococcal disease in WA this year.
A free meningococcal vaccine for the trains A, C, W and Y is available for people aged 15 to 19.
Anyone who missed out at school can still receive the vaccine at GP clinics, community health clinics and some university health centres.
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes lining the spinal cord and brain, and occasionally other areas such as the throat or large joints.
The bacterium is in droplets discharged when coughing or sneezing, but cannot be spread by saliva and does not survive more than a few seconds in the environment.