Meningococcal disease nearly claims daughter

By The Northern Advocate

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Northland father who is watching his 12-year-old daughter battle the deadly meningococcal disease is urging parents to be vigilant.

"If you suspect something is not right, get them to a doctor as soon as possible," Whangarei dad Dave Clapperton told the Northern Advocate today (Sunday).

"It's been a trying and scary last few days. We nearly lost our daughter."

Mr Clapperton wanted to issue the warning after his daughter complained of feeling sick then rapidly deteriorated with a rash quickly covering her body.

Teegan Clapperton was still in the intensive care unit at Starship Hospital in Auckland today but she had woken briefly and was showing positive signs of recovery.

The normally bubbly Teegan had been to the movies with friends on Tuesday and returned home telling her parents she felt sick.

"We had members of the family with the flu but in the back of our minds we were wary it could be meningitis," Mr Clapperton said.

About 8am Wednesday morning Teegan was still unwell and as soon as the Paramount Medical Centre was opened she was taken to the family doctor. A short time later a rash started to cover her body.

"The doctor told us in another half hour it could have been far worse.

"They managed to pump her full of antibiotics and basically saved her," Mr Clapperton said.

She was taken to Whangarei Hospital and then flown south to Starship.

Mr Clapperton said his daughter had woken up today but doctors had sedated her again to allow her body to recuperate.

"It's been a hell of a battle," he said.

"You think it won't happen to your child but you have to be vigilant and when they go down hill fast that's when you have to act."

An older sister has been vaccinated against the disease and Teegan was due to be vaccinated next week.

He and wife Jo have been with their daughter since she was admitted.

"It's pretty scary ... sitting there with all the tubes and monitors and then an alarm goes off."

He thanked the medical staff _ crediting them with saving his daughter.

Teegan has been confirmed as having meningococcal disease, but medical officials are awaiting the exact strain to be confirmed.

Mr Clapperton hoped she would be back home within the next few days.

Meanwhile, a two-year-old Kaipara girl who was admitted to the hospital on October 9 has been confirmed as having meningococcal B disease.

The Northland District Health Board last month began a mass vaccination campaign aiming to help prevent the spread of meningococcal C, which has killed three people in Northland since July.

The board's campaign aimed to vaccinate up to 40,000 Northlanders aged between one and 20.

Nurses administered the vaccine from easily accessible spots popular with younger people; a caravan set up in the Cameron St Mall; clinics at city shopping centres and the Whangarei Skatepark.

Cases of the deadly disease have been reported throughout the country this year.

A total of 12 meningococcal cases have been reported in Wellington, including two deaths.

The Lakes District Health Board area, which includes Rotorua and Taupo, have reported four cases including one death since the beginning of the year, alongside another two suspected cases.

- APNZ

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