16 Nov Deadly Bacterial Infection On The Rise
HEALTH experts are urging Queenslanders to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of meningococcal disease amid concern over an increase in the number of W strain cases.
Queensland Health has confirmed a Sunshine Coast resident was diagnosed with W strain meningococcal disease this month and is recovering.
It follows alarm over a spate of cases of the deadly condition in WA, Victoria and NSW.
Australian Medical Association Queensland spokesman Richard Kidd said the previously uncommon strain had been found to be on the rise in a number of other Australian states, and there could be more.
“It’s here now, so we need to start anticipating that it’s going to be an increasing problem over the next few years as it has been everywhere else,” he said.
“It is a very nasty infection. At least we do have vaccines and hopefully the Government will follow England’s lead and look at building it into our immunisation program.
“Of course, that comes at a cost to the country, but when you see these tragic cases, it’s very hard to put a cost on a young person’s life.”
National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance head Robert Booy said other strains of the virus affected certain age groups, but the W strain affected all ages.
Professor Booy said Australia did not yet have enough diagnosed causes of the disease to warrant adding the vaccine to our national immunisation program, but said the situation was being watched “very closely” by authorities. He said it was a “rampant” disease that could put healthy people “on death’s door” within 12 hours and urged everyone to be on the lookout for symptoms, which include a purple rash.
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream or meninges, a thin lining of the brain and spinal cord.