Meningococcal Outbreak in Australia Infects 15-year-old Schoolgirl

First Posted: Sep 02, 2016 05:00 AM EDT

The latest contact of a highly contagious and fatal meningococcus is a 15-year-old high school girl studying at Blackwood High. The latest contract followed several cases in August and this early September.

There were five reported cases in New South Wales and a 9-year-old and two football players from the Unley Jets as reported by Adelaide Now. These incidences raised an alarm to health officials of the southern part of Australia.

According to CDC, the meningococcal bacterium, Nesseria meningitides, is air-born through the spread of respiratory droplets and mucus secretions. This can be transmitted through kissing, coughing, sneezing, sharing food and drinks and close contact with infected person.

Severe cases of meningococcal infection are fatal as they can infect the blood stream and the lining of brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of the disease includes severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion and flu like pain. A distinct purple rash almost similar to bruises can be found in the skin of an infected person.

According to Meningococcal Australia, there are 5 strains of the bacteria found in Australia, all of which have available vaccines. Despite the fact that there are available vaccines and the acute bacterial infection is entire curable with antibiotics, statistics revealed that only 10 percent of patients reported in Australia dies and 20 percent suffers irreversible damages resulting to permanent disabilities.

New South Wale Health Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr. Vicky Sheppeard said that the disease was "most prevalent during the late winter and early spring season" as reported on DailyMail. Public health officials also cautioned the public to cooperate to health authorities and immediately consult a doctor when they think they possess several symptoms of the disease to prevent the spread of the outbreak.

Meningococcal Australia is a non-profit organization which aims to create awareness about meningococcal disease and updates reported cases in Australia.

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