Two cases of meningococcal in New Plymouth - rapid detection key to saving lives

1 December 2022

Two children were confirmed as having meningococcal disease in New Plymouth last month and Dr Neil de Wet, Te Whatu Ora National Public Health Service medical officer of health for Taranaki is reminding the public and health professionals in Taranaki to be aware of this disease and its symptoms.

“Both cases were under five years old and thankfully were identified early. This means they received fast, effective treatment and made rapid recoveries. Household contacts of each of the cases were also offered advice and preventative treatment,” says Dr DeWet.

No direct links have been found between these two cases; however, it is an important reminder to be aware of this disease which can be very serious.

“Symptoms and signs do vary, but in children and adults can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle and joint pain, vomiting, a dislike of bright light, drowsiness, and convulsions. There may also be a rash consisting of reddish-purple pin-prick spots or bruises.

“Symptoms in babies can be more subtle and in addition to the above, may include floppiness, refusing feeds, pale skin and high-pitched crying,” adds Dr DeWet.

If you suspect meningococcal disease, it is very important to get urgent medical attention - call 111, call your doctor, or go to a hospital. You can also call Healthline free on 0800 611 116, 24 hours a day. 

If you have been seen by a doctor and gone home but are still concerned, don't hesitate to call your doctor again or seek further medical advice. With meningococcal disease prompt treatment with antibiotics could prevent or permanent disability and death.  

Meningococcal disease can affect anyone, however it’s more common in children under the age of five, teenagers, and young adults.

Meningococcal cases were lower than usual in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic but have increased again in 2022 although not yet to the same level as the years before the pandemic. 

These two cases are the only cases reported in the Taranaki region in 2022.

More information about meningococcal disease is available on the Ministry of Health website:  Meningococcal disease (including meningitis) | Ministry of Health NZ

Last updated: Monday, December 5, 2022

About Us | Contact Us | Find Us | Sitemap | Disclaimer | Ministry of Health | New Zealand Government | Te Whatu Ora Taranaki Private Bag 2016 New Plymouth 4340 | © 2010