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Meningococcal started showing symptoms only 12 hours beforehand

Photo: NT baby death from meningococcal was rapid
NT health authorities say a child who died in Darwin from meningococcal started showing symptoms only 12 hours beforehand.

An infant who died in the Northern Territory after being struck down with meningococcal disease started displaying symptoms less than 12 hours earlier.

The baby, who died late on Sunday night, was enrolled at a childcare centre, in the greater Darwin region, where NT Centre for Disease Control staff will on Tuesday provide preventative antibiotics.

The results of a post mortem due midweek should determine whether or not the death is linked to a current and unprecedented outbreak of meningococcal W strain in central Australia.
Last week, the 27th case of the W strain of the deadly disease was confirmed for 2017 in central Australian indigenous communities. There were only three cases in 2016.

The majority of those affected were Aboriginal kids younger than ten.

The NT government has mounted a large-scale immunisation campaign in the affected regions in an attempt to prevent it from spreading to the Top End.

A free vaccine will be offered to all people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in remote communities and all Aboriginal people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.

Labor is also co-ordinating with other jurisdictions after a spate of cases were reported on South Australia's traditional APY lands.

Meningococcal is a rare, life-threatening illness that can be treated with antibiotics, but the infection can progress very quickly.

Symptoms include fever, neck stiffness, headache, difficulty looking at bright lights, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore muscles or joints, drowsiness or a rash. Babies may refuse food and drink and have a high pitched cry.

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