An infant is in a serious condition in a Hunter hospital with confirmed meningococcal disease.
This is the ninth case of meningococcal disease from the Hunter New England region this year.
In 2015 there were nine confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in the Hunter New England Local Health District.
Public Health Physician Dr Tony Merrit said meningococcal disease may be very severe and the community should be on alert for symptoms.
“If anyone suspects meningococcal disease, they should seek medical attention immediately,” he said.
Up to 10 per cent of patients with invasive meningococcal disease in Australia die as a result of the infection.
The first symptoms of meningococcal disease may include pain in the legs, cold hands and feet and abnormal skin colour.
Later symptoms may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting, a rash of reddish-purple spots or bruises, and drowsiness.
Babies with the infection can be irritable, not feed properly and have an abnormal cry.
“Meningococcal infection does not spread easily,” Mr Merrit said.
“It is spread by secretions from the nose and throat of a person who is carrying it and close and prolonged contact is needed to pass it on. It does not appear to be spread through saliva or by sharing drinks, food or cigarettes.”
Mr Merritt stressed that while meningococcal disease could be serious, in most cases early detection and treatment resulted in a complete recovery.
Most cases of meningococcal disease are seen in infants, young children, teenagers and young adults, although people of any age can be infected.
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