Canberra’s first case of meningococcal B in years

ACT chief health officer, Dr Paul Kelly.

ACT chief health officer, Dr Paul Kelly.

A PERSON is in Canberra Hospital recovering after contracting the ACT’s first case of meningococcal B since 2016. 

ACT chief health officer Dr Paul Kelly says immediate action was taken once the case was notified.

“Action taken includes the provision of antibiotics to people who have been in close contact with the person and information about meningococcal disease to those at low-risk as contacts,” he says. 

“Meningococcal disease is rare, but it can be severe, leading to life-long complications or death. It can cause meningitis and/or bactaeremia – an infection of the blood.”

In more recent years, the dominant disease-causing strains in the ACT and nationally have been meningococcal W and Y.

Dr Kelly says young adults and older teenagers are at a higher risk of contracting meningococcal disease.

“People in these age groups are more likely to carry bacteria in their nose and throat, and more likely to spread the bacteria to others,” he says. 

“That’s why we are targeting young people aged 16 to 19 with a catch-up program for the meningococcal ACWY vaccine.

“It’s why today, ACT Health is releasing a new video, which highlights to young people why getting vaccinated against meningococcal is so important.

Young people aged 16 to 19 who have yet to receive the meningococcal vaccine can also get the free vaccine through their GP until the end of the year.

Dr Kelly says meningococcal symptoms usually develop very quickly over a few hours. It is extremely important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

ACT Health’s new online video about meningococcal vaccine and further information about meningococcal disease and the catch-up program can be found at health.act.gov.au/our-services/immunisation/adolescents

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