“I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST A CASE OF THE FLU”

Know the facts

Meningococcal disease can progress rapidly and be hard to diagnose.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but potentially devastating infection that can progress rapidly, causing serious disability or death within 24 hours.

It is caused by a bacterial infection of the blood and/or membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

It can progress rapidly, beginning with symptoms such as fever and irritability that are easily mistaken for a common cold.

The distinctive meningococcal rash is an advanced symptom of blood infection, which may or may not occur.

Most children survive meningococcal disease, but if it is not diagnosed or treated quickly it can lead to serious long-term disability or death within 24 hours.

KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of meningococcal disease can be difficult to recognise and can easily be mistaken for a common cold or virus.

Common symptoms of meningococcal disease amongst babies and young children may include:

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High fever
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Refusal to eat
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Difficulty waking
or extreme tiredness
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Vomiting
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Pale, gray
or blotchy skin
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Cold hands and feet
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Sensitivity to light
In babies only
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High-pitched moaning cry
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A bulging fontanelle
(soft spot on top of the head)
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High fever
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Refusal to eat
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Difficulty waking
or extreme tiredness
Image
Vomiting
Image
Pale, gray
or blotchy skin
Image
Cold hands and feet
Image
Sensitivity to light
In babies only
Image
High-pitched
moaning cry
Image
A bulging fontanelle
(soft spot on top of the head)

Meningococcal disease can be deadly or have long-term consequences

While meningococcal disease is rare, it is potentially life threatening. Up to one in ten of those infected may die, and around one in five may suffer serious long-term disabilities including brain damage, deafness or loss of limbs.1,2

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Up to 1 in 10 may die.1,2

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Up to 1 in 5 may have permanent disability.1,2

“RILEY LOST HIS HANDS AND LEGS, BUT HE’S STILL MY LITTLE BOY”

BABIES and young children are most at risk of meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease can strike at any age. Babies (less than one year of age) and children (under 5 years of age) are most at risk, followed by adolescents
(15–19 years of age).

The number of cases of meningococcal disease reported in Australia has increased in recent years3,4

There are multiple strains of meningococcal disease. The most common strains globally are A, B, C, W, X and Y. Currently in Australia, strains B, W and Y cause the majority of disease.3,4

Baby

In children under 5, the most common strains were B and W in 2018. Babies under 1 are most at risk. 3,4

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In adolescents, the most common strain was B, followed by W and Y, in 2018.3

Know the facts

While practising good hygiene can help protect against the spread of germs, vaccination is an effective way to help prevent meningococcal disease.

No single vaccine can protect against all strains of meningococcal disease, but different vaccines are available to help protect against the most common ones (A, B, C, W and Y).

“Seeing Ashley in ICU was devastating. It was terrible”

Download the meningococcal disease booklet

Speak to your doctor for more information on meningococcal disease and how you can help protect your family

DOCTOR’S ADVICE TO PARENTS

Dr Starr’s advice: What parents need to know

Speak to your doctor for more information on meningococcal disease and how you can help protect your family

FURTHER READING

References:

  • World Health Organization. Meningococcal meningitis key facts; 19 February 2018. http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/meningococcal-meningitis (accessed April 2019).
  • CDC VPD manual Chapter 8: Meningococcal disease. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.pdf (accessed April 2019).
  • Australian Government Department of Health. Invasive Meningococcal Disease National Surveillance Report: with a focus on MenW. 31 December 2017. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/5FEABC4B495BDEC1CA25807D001327FA/$File/1Jan-31-Dec2017-Consol-Invasive-Men-W.pdf (accessed April 2019).
  • Australian Government Department of Health. Australian Immunisation Handbook. https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/ (accessed April 2019).