Child recovering from meningococcal disease

Stock image.
Stock image.

A WA child is recovering in hospital after being diagnosed with meningococcal disease.

The child was diagnosed with serogroup W, bringing the number of reported cases of invasive meningococcal disease in 2019 to seven.

Of the seven cases, one has been serogroup B, three serogroup W and three serogroup C meningococcal infections.

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, and occasionally of other sites, such as the throat, lungs or large joints.

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.

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, and older teenagers and young adults, but infection can occur at any age. Serogroup W and Y infections are associated with a third age peak in adults over 60 years.

Symptoms may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains. Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy (blank staring, floppiness, inactivity, being hard to wake, or poor feeding) and rash are important signs.

Details of the 12 months to 4 years and adolescent (15-19 years) meningococcal ACWY vaccine program, including where to access the free vaccine, are available at: http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/J_M/Meningococcal-vaccine

A vaccine against serogroup B meningococcal infection is available on prescription.