Woman, 21, fighting for life after contracting 'invasive' disease

Ash Cant
·2-min read

A 21-year-old woman is in a critical condition after contracting meningococcal disease in South Australia.

SA Health said the young woman and is from metropolitan Adelaide, and the strain has not been identified.

Multiple people have been identified as close contacts of the female patient, SA Health said.

Six people have also been directed to take clearance antibiotics.

SA Health said there have been two reported cases of meningococcal disease this year including the 21-year-old woman's case.

"Of the two cases, one was serogroup W and this case is yet to be identified," SA Health said.

"A total of five cases were reported in 2020. Of the five cases, three were serogroup B and two were serogroup Y."

A woman is in a critical condition after contracting meningococcal disease in Adelaide. Source: AAP
A woman is in a critical condition after contracting meningococcal disease in Adelaide. Source: AAP

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal infection is caused by Neisseria meningitidis, a bacterium, also called the meningococcus which is usually harmless, SA Health notes on its website.

About 10 to 20 per cent of the population carries meningococcus in their nose or throat.

"The meningococcus is spread when an infected person (patient or carrier) talks, coughs or sneezes small droplets containing infectious agents into the air," SA Health says.

"However, only a very small number of people in close contact with carriers develop meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease occurs when the bacteria ‘invade’ the body from the throat or nose."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Meningococcal disease can result in meningitis, septicaemia, joint infection, eye infection, pneumonia or a rash.

There are several symptoms of meningococcal disease, which can affect infants, older children and adults differently.

"Meningococcal disease can affect all age groups but is most common in children under 5 years of age and in young adults (15 to 24 years)," SA Health says. 

"Meningococcal disease can occur throughout the year but is most common in winter and spring. Outbreaks can occur but are rare."

Symptom of meningococcal disease in infants and younger children include:

  • fever

  • refusing to take feeds

  • fretfulness

  • child difficult to wake

  • high-pitched or moaning cry

  • tiny red or purple spots that soon spread and enlarge to look like fresh bruises 

  • pale or blotchy skin

  • abnormal skin colour

  • leg pain

  • cold hands and feet.

Tiny red or purple spots which may look like bruises is one of the Meningococcal disease symptoms for infants and children. Source: SA Health
Tiny red or purple spots which may look like bruises is one of the Meningococcal disease symptoms for infants and children. Source: SA Health

Symptoms of meningococcal disease in older children and adults include:

  • headache

  • fever

  • vomiting

  • neck stiffness

  • photophobia (discomfort when looking at light)

  • drowsiness or confusion

  • tiny red or purple spots that soon spread and enlarge to look like fresh bruises

  • collapse

  • joint pains.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.