NSW Health has issued an alert after a man in his 40s died of meningococcal disease.
“His infection was identified after his death and notified to NSW Health yesterday,” health officials said.
It triggered a warning from NSW Health for young people and parents in the state to be alert to symptoms and “act immediately if they appear”.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty of NSW Health said early intervention of the disease can save lives.
“The onset of meningococcal disease symptoms can come on suddenly and become very severe very quickly. If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the rash – get medical help right away,” McAnulty said.
According to health experts, meningococcal bacteria are carried by about 10% of the population harmlessly in the back of the throat or in the nose.
They then spread via droplets when coughing and sneezing or during close contact such as kissing.
If the infection is caught early enough and the right antibiotics given, most cases recover completely.
“Although it is a well-known symptom of meningococcal disease, the rash does not always occur or may present late in the disease,” McAnulty added.
Several cases of invasive meningococcal disease have been reported in Australia this year. In July, a two-year-old died after contracting a case. The four most common types of meningococci in Australia are B, C, W and Y and vaccines are available to protect against them.
A total of 12 cases were reported in South Africa in 2021, of which six belonged to serogroup B and six to serogroup W.
There were three deaths from meningococcal disease in 2021.
Symptoms of meningococcal disease include:
– Red and purple rash
– Severe and unexplained limb pain
– Difficulty waking up
– Sharp crying in babies
– Severe headaches
– Baffled by bright lights
Originally published as Meningococcus kills Sydney man, NSW Health issues alert