Child dies from meningococcal in Darwin

A child has died in Darwin after being struck down with meningococcal disease.

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“It is unlikely that this is connected to the current outbreak of meningococcal W in Central Australia,” the NT Health Department said in a statement.

“We are awaiting further results to confirm which strain was responsible.”

Last week the 25th case of the W strain of the deadly disease was confirmed in the central Australian indigenous communities of Barkly and Katherine.

All of those affected had been Aboriginal people while 19 of the recorded were kids younger than 10.

NT health authorities have mounted a large-scale immunisation campaign in the affected regions in an attempt to prevent it from spreading to the Top End.

A free vaccine will be offered to all people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in remote communities and all Aboriginal people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.

The NT government is also co-ordinating with other jurisdictions after a spate of cases were reported on South Australia’s traditional APY lands.

WHAT IS MENINGOCOCCAL?

* A rare, life-threatening illness caused by bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain and occasionally infect other sites, such as large joints.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

* Fever, neck stiffness, headache, difficulty looking at bright lights, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore muscles or joints, drowsiness or a rash. Babies may refuse food and drink and have a high pitched cry.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

* With antibiotics, but the infection can progress very quickly, so seeking medical attention urgently is vital to survival.