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NSW Health sound meningococcal disease warning as Sydney man in his 40s dies

Health leaders sound urgently alert to deadly disease, with children MOST at risk as it kills a NSW man in his 40s

  • A man in his 40s died on Thursday from a rare but deadly disease in Sydney
  • Meningococcal disease can be mistaken for a cold or a rash, but escalates quickly
  • Parents are warned to remain vigilant as children are most at risk
  • Early detection can be life-saving, but ignoring symptoms can be fatal

A man in his 40s from Sydney has died from a deadly meningococcal disease, which was not diagnosed until after his death, NSW Health chiefs have revealed.

The cause of death was discovered on Thursday and has now led to an urgent warning for parents to be on the lookout for symptoms before they spread.

The disease is especially fatal in young people, where the first sign is often a rash, and if it progresses to meningitis, it can be fatal or see victims having to amputate limbs.

It can cause blood poisoning that cuts off blood supply to limbs such as hands and arms or legs and feet, killing the flesh and forcing the limb to be amputated.

Parents urged to have their children vaccinated against the disease and be alert to meningococcal warnings in their children

Parents urged to have their children vaccinated against the disease and be alert to meningococcal warnings in their children

MINDOCOCK SYMPTOMS

Sudden onset of fever

Headache

Neck stiffness

joint pain

Rash of purple-red spots or bruises

Don’t like bright lights

Nausea and vomiting

Irritability and high crying in children

Refusal to eat with children

Difficulty waking up in children

Source: NSW Health

‘If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the results – see a doctor immediately,’ says Dr Jeremy Smith, Executive Director of Health Protection NSW.

“The onset of meningococcal disease symptoms can come on suddenly and become very severe very quickly.”

While meningococcal disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated, vaccinations have helped keep its spread at bay.

Fifteen cases of meningococcal disease have been reported in NSW this year, but the most dangerous period for the disease is now late winter and early spring.

Health leaders have urged parents of children under five to be vigilant, as they are most at risk, along with 15- to 25-year-olds.

Meningococcal bacteria spread between people in secretions that originate in the back of the nose and throat.

Coughing, kissing or living with someone who carries the bacteria increases the chance of contracting the disease.

However, the bacteria are difficult to spread and cannot survive outside the human body for long.

Meningococcal bacteria cannot be easily spread by sharing drinks, food or cigarettes, says NSW Health

Health authorities believe that five to 25 percent of people carry meningococcal bacteria in the back of their nose and throat without showing any disease or symptoms.

Meningococcal bacteria (pictured) already live in the throats of five to 25 percent of the population, authorities believe

Meningococcal bacteria (pictured) already live in the throats of five to 25 percent of the population, authorities believe

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