Meningococcal WA: One dead and two in hospital as deadly disease strikes

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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One person has died while two are recovering in hospital after being diagnosed with  meningococcal disease. 

The Western Australian Department of Health on Thursday announced the three infected older adults are the state’s first cases this year. The cases are not linked.

The state recorded nine cases with no deaths across 2023.

One person has died and two others are recovering in hospital after being diagnosed with meningococcal disease in Western Australia (stock image)

The bacteria which causes the disease, neisseria meningitidis, is carried harmlessly in the back of the nose by about 10-20 per cent of the population.

It can however cause an incredibly dangerous infection if it makes its way into the blood stream. 

Symptoms of the disease include a fever, lack of appetite, drowsiness, pain in the legs, a lack of energy and fits or convulsions.

Younger people who contract meningococcal can get a rash that does not go away when pressed with a clear glass.

Anyone with symptoms are urged to seek medical treatment immediately as the infection progress frighteningly fast. 

Most patients recover If appropriately treated, however the infection has a 5 to 10 per cent fatality rate.

About 15 per cent of those infected may also experience long-term complications such as hearing loss, limb amputations or brain damage.

Two of the cases were infected by the bacteria’s serogroup B while the other had serogroup W, two of the more common causes of meningococcal.

Symptoms of the disease include a fever, lack of appetite, drowsiness, pain in the legs, a lack of energy and fits or convulsions while younger people can break out in a rash (pictured)

Symptoms of the disease include a fever, lack of appetite, drowsiness, pain in the legs, a lack of energy and fits or convulsions while younger people can break out in a rash (pictured) 

The department refused to release any further information on the cases to respect the privacy of those infected. 

Two vaccines are available against meningococcal, one which protects against serogroup B while the other protects against A, C, W and Y.

The former – MenACWY vaccine – is free for children up to 12-months-old in the state and offered again to Year 10 students with a free catch-up for those aged 15-19.

Aboriginal children receive both vaccines for free during wider timeframes due to higher rates of infection.

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