What parents need to know: Meningococcal disease

What parents need to know: Meningococcal disease

The below information can be shared in service newsletters for parents.

Do you know the symptoms of meningococcal disease?

Parents are especially urged to be aware of the symptoms of meningococcal disease as we head into spring.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterial infection that can lead to serious illness or death, if not recognised and treated in time. While anyone can contract meningococcal disease, infection rates are higher in children aged 0 – 4 years.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include:

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Joint pain
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Rash of red-purple spots or bruises that doesn’t disappear when pressure is applied. (A rash does not always appear or it may occur late in the disease).

Some or all of these symptoms may appear and can mimic other common illnesses. Symptoms usually occur suddenly and can get worse quickly, so it’s important to seek urgent medical treatment.

Act fast and seek medical advice quickly

If your child has already seen a doctor but their symptoms continue to worsen, consult your doctor again or go to the Emergency Department.

Rapid treatment with antibiotics can save your child’s life and reduce the risk of severe complications, such as loss of limbs.

Protect your child against meningococcal disease

Vaccination for meningococcal disease types A, C, W and Y, is available on the National Immunisation Program for children at 12 months of age. Vaccination for types A, C, W and Y for other age groups is available privately. Vaccination for meningococcal disease type B is also available privately.

For more information about meningococcal disease, visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/meningococcal or speak to your GP.

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