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Two meningococcal cases diagnosed in MDHB area

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Two cases of meningococcal disease have been diagnosed in the MidCentral DHB area over the last week and a half, Medical Officer of Health Dr Rob Weir said.

Dr Weir said: “The close contacts of the cases have been provided antibiotics as a precaution.  This is standard management to minimise the risk of spread in the community.

“Meningococcal disease is caused when bacteria living in the nose or throat enter the bloodstream.  This can cause meningitis or blood poisoning. 

“The bug is spread through close contact, such as living in the same household and kissing.”

Meningococcal disease is more common in winter and spring.  There is no apparent connection between the two cases. Normally there are two or three cases per year in the district.

Dr Weir said: “You can help stop meningococcal disease from spreading by covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Good hand washing is also very important. 

“Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for people who have had or are having their spleen removed.  Vaccination is also recommended for young people moving to hostels, military recruits and people with an increased risk of invasive disease (including people with sickle cell anaemia or HIV infection).”

Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can look like other illnesses such as the flu.  It has a range of symptoms including fever, headache, dislike of light, vomiting, a rash that does not fade when pressed, confusion and sleepiness. 

Dr Weir said: “Anyone with some of these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention, as early treatment is extremely important.  People who were concerned or confused about symptoms should seek medical advice straightaway.  Healthline can also be called freephone on 0800 611 116 at any hour of the day or night – even if you have already been seen by a health professional.  If you have seen a doctor and gone home, but are still concerned, don't hesitate to call your doctor again or seek further medical advice.”

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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