A Taranaki teenager has died of meningococcal disease just days after his illness was discovered.

New Plymouth Boys' High School headmaster Paul Veric confirmed the student died on Saturday, March 10, due to meningococcal disease.

"During this tragic time, our sincerest thoughts and support are with his family and friends," Veric said.

"We currently have, and will continue to have, many students and staff extremely upset by this tragedy."


The Taranaki District Health Board was providing regular advice to the school, to ensure students and staff were safe and had access to information around meningococcal disease.

"At this current time, the Taranaki District Health Board does not believe this case poses an increased risk to students at NPBHS, including immediate class members," Veric said.

"There is also no increased risk to the wider community."

Families of students who attended the school had been contacted about the death, he said.

The death came just a day before TDHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Greg Simmons issued a reminder for the community to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of the disease.

Meningococcal disease is spread through close contact including kissing, sharing food and coughing. Young children, teenagers and young adults are most at risk of developing it.

Simmons said the disease could progress very quickly and initially appear similar to the flu.

"However, meningococcal disease can be very serious and people should be reminded of the signs and symptoms of the disease."

These could include a high temperature, headache, confusion and sleepiness, joint pain, aching muscles and or neck stiffness, vomiting and a skin rash.

He said sick individuals needed to be checked often and seek medical attention immediately.