Meningococcal cases

June 9, 2023 3:53 am in by

Released by Dr Mark Veitch, Director of Public Health.

The Department of Health is encouraging the public to remember that meningococcal disease still occurs in Tasmania, after a recent case was diagnosed in the state’s northwest.

A man in his 50s from northwest Tasmania was diagnosed with meningococcal disease earlier this week and is currently being treated in hospital.

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This is the third case of meningococcal disease in Tasmania this year.

The Department has worked with the man’s family to ensure they and other close contacts were promptly managed to minimise the risk of further infections.

Director of Public Health Dr Mark Veitch said anyone with a suspected infection should see a doctor immediately.

“Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious contagious disease that can develop quickly and can be fatal,” said Dr Veitch.
“Detecting and treating cases quickly can save lives, which means anyone with suspected meningococcal infection needs to seek emergency medical care immediately.

“The symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, severe headache, confusion, severe muscle pain, and rash. People with meningococcal disease can go from feeling well to being extremely ill very quickly.

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“Babies and infants may not have these symptoms but can be unsettled or drowsy, pale or blotchy, floppy, and not feeding.”

The Director of Public Health said the case also highlighted the continued importance of vaccination against meningococcal disease.

“This case is a reminder of the importance of getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease,” said Dr Veitch.

“Vaccination against the meningococcal A, C, W and Y strains is routinely provided free as part of the National Immunisation Program for children aged 12 months and as part of the school-based program for students in year 10.

“A vaccine is available to protect against the meningococcal B strain for children from 6 weeks of age. This vaccine is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants. Others wishing to protect themselves or their family against meningococcal B can purchase the vaccine through their General Practitioner with a private script.”

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Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Approximately 1 in 10 people can have meningococcal bacteria living naturally in the back of their nose and throat. However, in a small number of people, serious strains of the bacteria can invade the body and cause illness, known as invasive meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is more common during winter and spring but can occur at any time in any place and affect people of any age.

More information about meningococcal disease is available at: