Health officials are urging people to be on the lookout for symptoms of meningitis after a Central Otago teen apparently died from the disease this week.

Ryan O'Connell-Cairns, a 14-year-old from Bannockburn, died in Dunedin Hospital on Monday night. Otago-Southland medical officer of health John Holmes said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, and that the boy's death would be referred to the coroner.

However, the "probable" cause of death was meningococcal disease.

Doctors in Central Otago had been advised to look out for patients with symptoms of the disease, he told the Otago Daily Times.

He encouraged people to be aware of the symptoms and go to the doctor if they were concerned.

"Like the early signs of influenza, meningococcal disease can start with aches and pains, nausea and vomiting, a fever and headache, and generally feeling unwell," Dr Holmes said.

"With influenza, those symptoms can usually be alleviated by taking some paracetamol.

"If there's a rapid onset of illness, or if people are sensitive to light, have a stiff neck, or develop a blotchy rash, they should contact a doctor immediately."

- NZPA