Meningococcal meningitis has been confirmed in a child in Gisborne.

On Tuesday, Puhi Kaiti Community Health Centre posted on its Facebook page warning people to be aware about the killer disease.

"Look at the symptoms of meningitis. Every second counts. If you suspect meningitis, get medical help immediately. Call or see your doctor / Call an ambulance / Get to a hospital," the post said.

The child, who was admitted to Gisborne Hospital last week with meningococcal septicaemia, has now been discharged, a Gisborne Hospital spokeswoman said today.

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"All those who had been in close contact with the child have been followed up. Other families the child might have been in contact with have been supplied information about the disease and what symptoms to look out for," she said.

Meningococcal disease is relatively rare these days, says medical officer of health Margot McLean.

"Early treatment is vital. In this case the mother acted quickly when she suspected her child was seriously ill.

"It is good for parents and caregivers to be aware of what symptoms to look out for and to contact their medical centre or call the Healthline if they need advice," Dr McLean says.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes meningitis (an infection of the membranes that cover the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

It can affect anyone, but it is more common in children under the age of 5, teenagers, and young adults.

Symptoms of meningitis can develop suddenly and include a high fever, headache, sleepiness and joint and muscle pains.

There can also be some more specific symptoms, such as a stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, vomiting, crying, refusal to feed (in infants) and a rash consisting of reddish-purple pin-prick spots, or bruises.

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For more information go to The Meningitis Foundation or the Ministry of Health and type in meningococcal disease in the search.

- Gisborne Herald