Adult in hospital with meningococcal disease

3d illustration of meningitis (Meningococcus sp.) pathogens.
3d illustration of meningitis (Meningococcus sp.) pathogens.

AN adult is in hospital after being diagnosed with meningococcal disease, health experts in WA have confirmed.

The potentially-deadly infection is hard to identify and cases normally rise towards the end of flu season, when people’s immune systems are weaker from viruses.

WA’s Department of Health confirmed an adult has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, bringing the number of reported cases in 2019 to 12.

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Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

A total of 41 cases were notified in WA in 2018. This was less than the 46 cases notified in 2017, but well above the long term average for annual cases. The number of serogroup W cases in 2018 (30) was also the highest reported in any year.

“Symptoms of invasive meningococcal disease may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains,” the Department of Health stated.

“Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy, poor feeding and rash are important signs.

“Although treatable with antibiotics, meningococcal infection can progress very rapidly, so it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms seeks medical attention promptly.

“With appropriate treatment, most people with the disease recover, although around five to 10 per cent will die and around 15 per cent may experience complications such as hearing loss, or gangrene requiring skin grafts or amputations.”