Meningococcal disease has almost claimed the life of a 12-month-old girl in Timaru.
The baby had to be resuscitated at Timaru Hospital after being taken there by a concerned relative.
She was then sent to Auckland's Starship children's hospital.
Medical Officer of Health Daniel Williams confirmed she was seen by doctors on August 31, but could not comment further because of privacy issues.
Dr Williams said public health staff contacted around 30 of the girl's family and distributed preventative measures in the form of antibiotics.
The wider public was not made aware as Dr Williams was confident staff had followed up with everyone associated with the case.
The girl had group B meningococcal disease which was sporadic rather than occurring in clusters.
"It is a different strain to the recent cases," he said.
The Herald understands she has since been discharged from Starship and is no longer living in Timaru.
Dr Williams said three cases of meningococcal disease were reported in South Canterbury during August, after a long period of no notifications.
"[There were] two young men and the one-year-old. There is no apparent connection between the cases.
"Contacts of the cases have been given advice and close contacts were offered preventive antibiotics."
Many healthy people harbour the infective bacteria in their nose and throat, but in a few cases invasive disease develops as meningitis.
The bacteria are spread by close personal contact.
Dr Williams said at first it can be hard to tell meningococcal disease from other feverish illnesses.
The illness may quickly get worse, sometimes in just a few hours, he said.
"People who suspect that they or someone in their household may have meningococcal disease should seek urgent medical attention.
"Urgent treatment with antibiotics is often life-saving."
A baby or child with meningitis may:
Have a fever
Be fretful, or crying with a high pitched moaning cry
Refuse drinks or feeds
Be difficult to rouse
Have a rash with pale and blotchy skin, or red to purple spots or bruises
Have a fever with sweating
Have a headache
Have joint pains, aching muscles, or a stiff neck
Be very sleepy, confused, delirious or unconscious
Dislike bright lights
Develop a rash of tiny red to purple spots or bruises
People who suspect that they or someone in their household may have meningococcal disease should seek urgent medical attention.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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