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5:10 PM Thursday November  08, 2018

Members of the public and health professionals are asked to be vigilant for suspected meningococcal disease, with a rise in the number of group W cases (also known as Men W) throughout the country, although group B cases (also known as Men B) continues to be predominant nationally.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Shanika Perera says Auckland has seen a similar increase in Men W, but the main group in the region is still Men B, which has been responsible for 44 percent of all meningococcal infections this year.

The overall number of meningococcal cases in the region is similar to last year.  “We have seen 29 cases so far this year, compared with 30 cases for the same period last year, “Dr Perera said.

A national health advisory has alerted doctors, emergency departments and members of the public to the rise in cases with the Men W, as it can be hard to detect.

Of the 24 Men W cases detected in the country this year, seven have occurred in Auckland, compared with three cases of this group last year. None of these cases were linked, so there has not been a cluster or outbreak of this disease in the region.

“Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and can be difficult to diagnose.  It can look like the flu early on but quickly gets much worse.  It is important to get early treatment,” Dr Perera said.

Symptoms include some or all of the following: fever, headache, vomiting, feeling sleepy/confused/delirious, loss of consciousness, joint pains, aching muscles, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, rash - purple or red spots or bruises.  Additional symptoms in babies and infants include being unsettled, floppy or irritable, refusing drinks/feeds and becoming harder to wake.

“If you or anyone you know has these symptoms, don’t wait. Call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116) immediately,” Dr Perera said.

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