Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by meningococcus bacteria and can cause severe infections including Meningitis (an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) and Septicaemia (an infection of the blood stream).
Meningococcal can develop quickly and can become life threatening. It may cause life long disabilities or death in about 1 in 10 people according to the Royal Children’s Hospital. Meningococcus is spread by tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat through spluttering, coughing, sneezing and sharing utensils.
Signs and Symptoms
One or more of these symptoms may be present:
- Severe headache.
- Neck, shoulder and back stiffness.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Lethargy, drowsiness or confusion.
- High fever.
- Skin rash of small red or purple spots or bruises, which do not turn white when you push on them.
- Photophobia (does not like bright lights).
- High pitch moaning cry in babies.
- Not waking for feeds.
- Pale and blotchy skin.
Symptoms show up between 2-10 days after your child has come into contact with meningococcus.
People with meningococcal will need to be treated in hospital with antibiotics and early treatment is the key to saving their life. The sooner treatment is received the less damage the disease will cause. The symptoms can often be difficult to diagnose in the beginning, however if your child has been seen and they do not improve they need to be taken straight back to a medical professional.
Prevention of Meningococcal
Have your child immunised against this disease. Children whose parents smoke are at greater risk.
Things to remember
- The infection can develop quickly, often the ‘rash’ is a late sign.
- Symptoms will show up in 2-10 days after contact with meningococcus.
- If your child is sent home after being assessed by a doctor and does not improve return them promptly to hospital.
- Seek medical advice if you are concerned or in an emergency call 000.
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