Northland baby dies of Meningococcal

  • 10/10/2015
Northland baby dies of Meningococcal

A baby has died from suspected meningococcal disease in Northland within 48 hours of becoming unwell, prompting a reminder of signs of the disease from health officials.

"Meningococcal disease can kill very quickly. In this case, the baby died within 48 hours of becoming unwell and deteriorated very quickly," Dr Clair Mills, Northland medical officer of health, said.

It's the seventh case of meningococcal disease this year in Northland and the first fatal one.

Dr Mills said there did not appear to be any links between the cases - more than half were in infants under two years and the rest in young adults.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes two illnesses - meningitis, an infection of the membranes that cover the brain, and septicaemia.

"Meningococcal disease can look like a viral flu or mild illness at the start, but can be rapidly life threatening, especially in babies and young children," Dr Mills said.

"If your baby is unwell, please see a doctor and watch out for danger signs such as fever, vomiting, refusing to breastfeed, fast breathing," she said.

Older children and adults may complain of a headache, and have a fever and vomiting.

"The tell-tale purplish rash may not present until very late in the illness so don't wait if you are concerned," Dr Mills said.