Man dies from meningococcal after attending St John camp at Motutapu Island

Man dies from meningococcal after attending St John camp at Motutapu Island
Photo credit: File

A young man has died from suspected meningococcal disease in Auckland City Hospital after attending a St John youth camp on Motutapu Island on Saturday night.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) staff have travelled to the island to provide medicine and assess the risk to the other 190 people on the island.

Only a few people on the island are believed to be "close contacts" or at risk of the infection.

Antibiotics will be given to those who shared the man's sleeping quarters as well as another person potentially exposed in the first-aid room.

Dr Denise Barnfather, an ARPHS medical officer, said it was a tragic situation.

"The risk of the young people or staff being infected is very low, as the meningococcal bacterium is only spread by very close contact, or many hours of contact, with an infected person," she said in a statement.

The camp will continue until Monday.

Northland's Public Health Unit is talking to the family about who else might have been at risk in the previous seven days in which the young man was infectious.

"Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and can be difficult to diagnose, so we are providing information to the young people and parents so they can be alert for symptoms," Dr Barnfather said.

"It can look like the flu early on but quickly gets much worse. It is important to get early treatment."

Symptoms include a fever, headache, vomiting, joint pains, and bruises.

"If you or anyone you know has these symptoms, don't wait. Call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116) immediately," Dr Barnfather said.

On average there are 29 cases of the disease annually in Auckland.