Meningococcal alert after girl's death



Auckland health authorities say there have been five confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in the last week.

After the death of a schoolgirl in Wellington on Monday, Auckland Regional Public Health Services (ARPHS) say no fatalities from the disease have been reported and they have yet to establish a link between the cases since August 29.

Wellington schoolgirl Amanda Crook-Barker, 12, died from suspected meningococcal disease on Monday evening just two hours after developing a rash.

Her mother Lisa Crook told the Dominion Post her daughter had been sick that morning and she called an ambulance after a rash appeared about 3pm. Amanda died about 5pm.

"You'd think there would be warning, but there was just nothing.

"Even once she got to hospital and got antibiotics, she was talking. We thought she was coming right. [Then] her heart, I think, just gave in," Ms Crook said.

If meningococcal disease is confirmed, it will be the 16th case, and first fatal case, in Wellington this year.

There were 13 deaths from meningococcal disease nationally last year.

Meningococcal disease shows flu like symptoms that quickly get worse - sometimes in a matter of hours or within two to three days.

Symptoms may include a fever, confusion, sleepiness, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, joint pain and a rash. Children and babies may also refuse feeds, can be floppy and vomit.

Dr Andrew Lindsay, medical officer of health at ARPHS, says if anyone showed symptoms of the illness they should contact their doctor without delay.

"Even if you or your child has been vaccinated, you are still vulnerable to catching the disease."

Babies, children and young adults are most at risk from the disease which is spread through close personal contact, and by coughing and sneezing.

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