Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cairns | Meningococcal confirmed

Meningococcal confirmed in Cairns

A WOMAN was last night being treated in Cairns Base Hospital for a meningococcal infection and health officials are investigating two other possible cases.

It comes as the meningococcal outbreak in Townsville, which claimed the life of an 18-year-old university student at the weekend, yesterday reached four with a tourist admitted to hospital.

Queensland Health is warning the Cairns community to "be alert, but not alarmed".

Public health physician Jeffrey Hanna said the 19-year-old woman in Cairns was in a stable condition. He said initial investigations suggested no connection between the confirmed case and the two pending cases.

"The Cairns community should be alert but not alarmed at the recent cases in north Queensland," he said. "Meningococcal is an uncommon disease and not easily spread.

"Cairns has now had two confirmed cases of meningococcal in 2011, out of a total of 40 cases in Queensland."

Meningococcal Australia president Michael Sanig said people needed to be aware and on alert for the symptoms.

"The early symptoms are similar to that of the flu or gastroenteritis such as a severe headache, fever or sore throat," he said.

"When a person has meningococcal they deteriorate very quickly and don’t respond to medications such as aspirin and their temperature doesn’t go down.

"If a person breaks out into spots then they’re seriously in trouble and must get themselves to a hospital straight away. Time is essential."

Mr Sanig said the virus was caused by bacteria and transmitted via saliva.

Young adults are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

"Meningococcal can strike anyone including children and adults but young children and those aged between 15 and 25 are more likely to get the disease," he said.

"Teenagers and young adults generally because of the socially interactive lifestyle they led which can involve sharing drinks, kissing and so forth."

Queensland Health yesterday confirmed an elderly tourist holidaying on Magnetic Island had been admitted to Townsville Hospital with the illness. He is in a critical but stable condition.

Townsville Public Health Unit physician Dr Stephen Donohue said the case was not linked to an outbreak at James Cook

Cait Bester
Thursday, August 4, 2011
© The Cairns Post

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