Two people diagnosed with meningococcal disease

Stock image.
Stock image.

TWO cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed by the Department of Health today, bringing the number of reported cases to 18 this year.

An adult and a child are recovering after being diagnosed with meningococcal disease but the Department said they were not linked.

One case was due to serogroup Y and the other, serogroup B.

The Department said of the 18 cases in 2019, six have been serogroup B, six serogroup W, five serogroup C and one serogroup Y 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.

Sometimes, but not always, symptoms may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Symptoms of invasive meningococcal disease 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 or inactivity, 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 5 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.