Twelve cases of lethal infectious disease have been reported in Bay of Plenty this year.
12 cases of meningococcal disease were recorded in the Plenty Bay District District Health Board, covering the Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatāne areas. In 2017 there were 11 cases, and in 2016 there were eight.
However, the Ministry of Health warns of a particularly lethal type of infectious disease known as the W (MenW) group.
Dr. Caroline McElnay, director of public health, said that since the second half of 2017 there has been a sharp increase in MenW cases, with 12 cases recorded throughout 2017, including three deaths.
• Fast action saves a child from meningococcal disease
This year there were 24 cases, including six deaths. Typically, there are six cases of MenW per year, Dr. McElnay said.
In the Bay of Plenty and Lakes quarters, there are four cases today. And in 2017 and 2016 there was not.
"This type of MenW is associated with high mortality rates and affects all age groups. Northland is least affected, with seven cases so far this year, including three deaths," Dr. McElnay said.
Chief Physician Dr. Phil Shoemack from the Public Health Organization Toi Te Ora said that the earlier people were diagnosed, the better treatment they could receive.
Early symptoms of meningococcal disease may be misleading for influenza. However, the big difference was a rapid deterioration of the person with her, Shoemack said.
"This bug is causing a serious illness very quickly, with an incredibly fast attack. Literally, an hour can be quite different from the next one."
Emergency treatment was crucial, Shoemack said.
"A large proportion of people who get meningococcal disease, even if they survive, end up with potential life problems, and can affect their hearing, affect their brain function, and can also cause blood poisoning, which can cause an individual to end up with amputation fingers, toes or limbs. "
Like influenza, meningococcal disease has many strains. There is a vaccine that covers most, except for group B, which is the most common form of meningococcal disease.
There were 96 cases of meningococcal disease at the national level.
The previous year there were 112. The Health Ministry states that the annual number of cases in New Zealand has increased steadily since 2014 when 45 cases were reported.
Meningococcal disease – what to look for
Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because it may look like other diseases like flu. Meningitis symptoms can suddenly develop and include:
– high temperature
– pain in the joints and muscles.
More specific symptoms may include:
– Stubborn neck
– do not like lights
– refusal of food (in infants)
– a rash consisting of reddish-purple stubble or bruise.
What to do
If you or anyone in your family have these symptoms, call your doctor right away or call 111. Tell what the symptoms are. You can also call Healthline for free
0800 611 116
, 24 hours a day.
Source – Ministry of Health