Death of toddler sparks new plea to vaccinate

THE death of a two-year-old Dysart girl from meningococcal disease has brought a new urgency to warnings to parents to vaccinate their children.

In addition to checking their children's vaccinations are up to date, parents also are being told by Meningococcal Australia to know the signs and symptoms and to act quickly if they suspect someone may have the disease.

In addition to the toddler's death on Friday, a Rockhampton teenager is being treated for the potentially fatal disease.

People including family who had immediate contact with the toddler have since been tested.

Queensland has reported 36 cases this year. There have been several incidences of the disease in the Mackay region in past years but deaths are uncommon.

Queensland Health offers immunisation for toddlers at 12 months for the strain C, which has caused the most deaths nationally.

However, Meningococcal Australia director and spokeswoman Kay Stammers said while there has been a big drop in cases of strain C since the Federal Government placed the vaccinations on its National Immunisation Program, strain B should now be included.

She said the organisation had been lobbying the government to add strain B to the program as there had been 161 cases nationally in 2012, compared to only 11 cases of strain C.

"There should be no complacency about this and people and babies should be immunised for the B strain too," she said.

Ms Stammers said a surprising number of adults got the disease although babies, with their less mature immune systems, children, teenagers and young adults were all high risk groups.

Of 208 cases nationally in 2012, she said 59 had been in Queensland.

Dr Steven Donohue of the Townsville public health unit said it was not easy to catch meningococcal.

 

Symtoms of meninggococcal

In babies:

  •  Fever, hands and feet may also feel cold
  •  High pitched moaning cry or whimpering
  •  Rash of red-purple spots or bruises
  •  Blank, staring expression
  •  Difficult to wake,
  •  Pale blotchy complexion

Older children and adults:

  •  Vomiting
  •  Fever, headache
  •  Dislike of bright lights
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Rash of red-purple spots or bruises


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