Launceston teenager diagnosed with meningoccocal B

A Launceston teenager diagnosed with meningoccocal disease is the first case confirmed in Northern Tasmania.

Public Health communicable diseases clinical director Faline Howes confirmed the case on Thursday night.

“A 15 year-old boy from Launceston has been diagnosed with meningoccocal B disease and is in a stable condition in the Launceston General Hospital,” Dr Howes said.

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Public Health is working with the boy’s family to ensure they, and other close contacts are managed to minimise the risk of further infection.

The boy’s case follows that of a four-year-old girl from Devonport, in the state’s North-West, who was diagnosed with the disease earlier this week.

Dr Howes said there were no links between this case and the diagnosis of the four-year-old girl.

This is the third case of meningoccocal B in Tasmania this year. The other detection was in the south.

Is is the ninth case of meningoccocal virus to be detected, however all the other cases were the W strain.

Dr Howes said the detection of the disease in the North didn’t constitute an outbreak.

”There is no indication of an outbreak of meningoccocal B disease in the North or North-West,” she said.

“The rate of meningoccocal B disease in Tasmania is similar to the Australian rate while the rate of meningococcal W disease in Tasmania over recent years is much higher than the national rate.”

A statewide meningococcal vaccine program has been rolled out by the state government but it doesn’t cover the B strain.

Under the program, all Tasmanians born after August 1, 1997 and babies who are at least six weeks old are eligible for the free vaccination.

A B strain vaccination is available via private prescription from a GP.

Dr Howes said cases of meningococcal disease are more common during winter and spring, but can occur at any time and can affect people of any age.

The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include fever, severe headache, confusion, severe muscle pain, and rash. People who contract meningococcal disease typically progress from feeling well to feeling extremely unwell very quickly.

Babies and infants may not have these symptoms but can be unsettled or drowsy, pale or blotchy, floppy and not feeding.

  • If you suspect you or someone you care for may have contracted meningococcal disease, seek emergency medical care immediately.