A meningococcal alert has been issued for NSW following the the death of a 40-year-old Sydney man. His infection was identified after his death and notified to NSW Health on Thursday.
NSW Health have urged parents and young people to be alert to the symptoms and act immediately if they appear. So far, there have been 15 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW this year.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious infection, with 10 per cent of cases leading to death and 40 per cent causing permanent disability. These can include learning difficulties, sight and hearing problems, liver and kidney failure, loss of fingers, toes or limbs, or scarring caused by skin grafts.
While vaccination has made the disease uncommon, it can occur year round, with increases seen by NSW Health in late winter and early spring. Children under five and those 15 to 25 are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.
Health Protection NSW executive director Dr Jeremy McAnulty said early intervention could be lifesaving.
"Onset of meningococcal disease symptoms can appear suddenly and become very serious very quickly. If you suspect meningococcal disease, don't wait for the rash - see a doctor immediately," Dr McAnulty said.
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He said people should call Triple Zero (000) or go straight to an emergency department if their symptoms rapidly worsen or their child is very unwell.
The symptoms of meningococcal include:
NSW Health says vaccination provides the best protection from the harmful effects of meningococcal disease. The vaccine is provided free for babies at 12 months, adolescents, and people of all ages with certain medical conditions. In NSW, the adolescent dose is delivered through the school vaccination program in Year 10.
For more information on vaccination or symptoms, transmission, risks and treatment of Meningococcal, see the NSW Health website.