Three Bay of Plenty people, including two children, have been hospitalised with meningococcal infections.

A Bay of Plenty public health official says people should stay alert to the symptoms after three cases of the disease were reported in the region over the holiday period.

One was a 5-year-old boy who had recently moved to Tauranga from Northland, a region that has been in the grips of an outbreak of the deadly Meningococcal W (MenW) strain, prompting a Government vaccination campaign.

An Auckland District Health Board spokeswoman said the boy was in a stable condition in Starship Hospital.

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An 8-year-old Te Puke girl from the boy's extended family was in a stable condition in Tauranga Hospital, a Bay of Plenty District Health Board spokeswoman said.

The third case was a 25-year-old Ōpōtiki man with no known links to the children. He is in a stable condition in Whakatāne Hosptial.

In all cases, final laboratory results were being awaited to identify the infection strain.

Toi Te Ora Medical Officer of Health Dr Jim Miller said people who were close contacts of the three had been given advice by health officials and offered prophylactic antibiotics as appropriate.

He said the cases had not raised concerns of an outbreak of the uncommon but serious illness in this region.

"With the recent outbreak of meningococcal disease in Northland, and concerns about the changing patterns of meningococcal disease across the country, it is prudent for us all to be alert and look out for each other."

The disease was caused by a bacteria carried by about 15 per cent of people in their nose and throat.

It can spread to the bloodstream and cause blood poisoning and meningitis, potentially leading to death or a permanent disability such as deafness.

Good hygiene - covering coughs and sneezes, and regular handwashing - can reduce the risk.

Anyone with concerns can visit their GP or call the free 0800 611 116 HealthLine to speak to a registered nurse.


Meningococcal symptoms
Signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease may include some or all of the following:
• High fever.
• Headache.
• Vomiting.
• Refusal of feeds (in infants).
• Sleepiness.
• Stiff neck.
• Dislike of bright lights.
• Joint and muscle pains.
• Rash of small purple or red spots that will not fade when pressed.