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NSW Health reports a surge in Meningococcal disease cases

NSW Health has issued an alert to clinicians and the general community, highlighting that Meningococcal disease cases are above average for this time of year.

Key facts:
  • Of the 29 cases of Meningococcal disease in NSW in 2022, all cases have been due to serogroup B, three of these cases resulted in the death of the patient.
  • A recent cluster of 4 cases, including two deaths, have been in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven area.
  • Children 0-4 years and people aged 15-25 years are at highest risk of Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).
About IMD:

IMD is a rare but serious disease. Historically up to 10% of cases have been fatal even with appropriate antibiotic treatment and those who do survive are often left with long-term sequelae. IMD is caused by several serogroups of Neisseria meningitidis. Serogroups B, C, W and Y have caused the majority of IMD in Australia. Recent cases have predominately been caused by serogroup B.

Clinicians and members of the community are being urged to look out for early meningococcal disease symptoms, which can be non-specific and mimic other common illnesses like respiratory or gastro viruses. Onset is often sudden, and illness progresses rapidly.

Other symptoms may include sudden onset of fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, unexplained joint, limb or abdominal pain, a non-blanching rash of red-purple spots or bruises, photophobia, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms in young children include irritability, difficulty waking, high-pitched crying, and refusal to eat. The ‘meningococcal rash’ does not always appear, and often occurs late in the illness.

Patients should always urgently re-attend if symptoms rapidly progress or worsen.


Vaccination is available for people who wish to protect themselves against IMD.

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) includes meningococcal vaccination for certain groups and meningococcal vaccines are also available via private prescription. GPs and now pharmacists are now also able to administer meningococcal vaccines for people aged 5 years and over.

As vaccine schedules and serogroups covered have changed over time, history of vaccination should not exclude a diagnosis of IMD.

Find out ore at: Meningococcal disease – invasive | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

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