Two cases of meningococcal disease in South Auckland

By Martin Johnston

Two cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed in people who attended the same church in Otahuhu, South Auckland. File photo
Two cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed in people who attended the same church in Otahuhu, South Auckland. File photo

Two cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed in people who attended the same church in Otahuhu, South Auckland.

In a public health alert notice, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said the victims had been at services of the Auckland Fijian Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Atkinson Ave.

The two victims have now been discharged.

"At this stage in our investigation we are unsure if the two cases are linked. However I urge people who attended this church from Saturday August 27 to Monday September 5 to look out for symptoms of meningococcal disease," says medical officer of health, Dr Shanika Perera.

Etonia Temo, the pastor of the Fijian church, said one of the cases was his adult son.

"He has recovered and he's home with me now."

The other case was a person who was not a member of the church, said Temo, who did not wish to answer further questions.

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Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood-poisoning). It can be deadly.

Perera encourages people to remain alert for flu like symptoms that quickly become worse - sometimes in a matter of hours or within two to three days. Symptoms may include fever, confusion, sleepiness, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, joint pain and the appearance of a rash. Children and babies may also refuse feeds, can be floppy and vomit.

Meningococcal disease is spread in a similar way to the common cold - through close personal contact and by coughing and sneezing. It can affect anyone, but babies, children, teenagers and young adults are most at risk.

South Island health authorities have also reported two cases of meningoccocal disease in schoolgirls from Wanaka's Mount Aspiring College this month.

A Year 12 girl, was seen at a Wanaka Medical Centre on Sunday morning and was transferred to Christchurch Hospital the same day. On Tuesday she was said to be in a serious but stable condition. A Year 13 girl, was also in a stable condition on Tuesday. The Southern District Health Board's public health service was investigating for connections between the two cases.

If you suspect you or someone you know might have meningococcal disease call your doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116) immediately.

Nationally over the 12 months to June there were 70 notifications of meningococcal disease, compared with 43 cases in the 12 months to June 2015, according to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research. This is a statistically significant increase in the per-capita rate, from 1 per 100,000 people, to 1.5 per 100,000.

In April, May and June this year, 14 cases were notified, of which six were the particular B strain that dominated the last New Zealand epidemic of the disease, four were other B strains, two were C and two were Y.

- NZ Herald

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