Wagga residents are urged to be on the lookout for the lesser known signs of meningococcal disease with one case reported this season.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District director of public health Tracey Oakman said meningococcal disease could occur at any time of year, but cases typically start to increase towards the end of flu season when people's immune systems are weaker from viruses.
"Last year MLHD reported three cases of meningococcal disease," she said.
"It is a rare but serious bacterial infection that can cause death within hours, so the more symptoms people know about, the better.
"Most cases occur in infants, young children, teenagers and young adults, although people of any age can be affected."
In June, an 18-year-old man was treated for meningococcal disease at Wagga Base Hospital.
NSW Health's director of communicable diseases, Vicky Sheppeard said meningococcal could often mimic other common illnesses.
She added it was essential people be aware going into spring that nausea symptoms, vomiting, neck stiffness, joint pain, light sensitivity, or a sudden fever, could be something else.
"Most people normally associate meningococcal disease with a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, but in some cases, a rash doesn't appear, or it could be the last symptom to take shape," Dr Sheppeard said.
Meningococcal infection does not spread easily. It is spread by secretions from the nose and throat of a person who is carrying the bacteria. Close and prolonged contact is needed to pass it on.
"It more commonly occurs in people aged between 15 to 24 years as they tend to be involved in more intimate social activities such as kissing," Dr Sheppeard said.
Vaccination is the best means of protection against meningococcal disease.
Vaccination for meningococcal disease types A, C, W and Y, is available on the National Immunisation Program for infants at 12 months of age and adolescents in Year 10. Any adolescents aged 15 to 19 years who miss the vaccine in school are eligible for a free vaccine from their GP.
However, as there are several strains of meningococcal disease, and vaccination does not cover all strains, even vaccinated people need to be on the lookout for symptoms.
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