Infectious Diseases

MENINGITIS

Various strains of meningococcal bacteria cause a rare disease either by ‘blood poisoning’ (septicaemia) and/or ‘meningitis’ (infection of the membranes around the brain), both of which are potentially fatal.
Meningococci are transmitted by droplet aerosol or secretions from the nasopharynx of colonised persons. Close and prolonged contact- eg kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters, sharing eating/drinking utensils –facilitates the spread of the bacteria. The bacteria attach to and multiply on the mucosal cells of the nasopharynx. It is believed that 10%-20% of the population carries meningitis bacteria at any given time. In a small (less than 1%) of colonised persons the organism penetrates the mucosal cells and enters the bloodstream causing disease as above.

The Ministry of Health currently recommend vaccination against meningococcal C disease for young adults in hostel-type accommodation. The potential risk relates to the population density of living conditions in this type of accommodation; note this level of density may exist in some rented accommodation.

No vaccine is ever 100% guaranteed to protect against disease. It is important that people who have symptoms suggestive of meningococcal disease or are seriously ill access medical care as soon as possible. Friends and flatmates should be ready to look after each other and know how to access urgent health care

For more info http://www.health.govt.nz/yourhealth-topics/diseases-and-illnesses/meningococcal-disease

For vaccination info link to meningococcal info

PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough)

There has been an increase in pertussis in our community. Pertussis usually starts with cold symptoms and a mild cough and then progresses to a paroxysmal cough which can induce vomiting. It can last up to 3months.
Young children and babies are most at risk of developing breathing problems, pneumonia and in some cases brain damage from pertussis.

If you have been in contact with someone who has probable or confirmed pertussis and/or you have symptoms of possible pertussis please see a GP as soon as possible.

Early treatment with antibiotics can reduce the severity of the disease and vaccination of close contacts reduces the spread of infection.

Current advice is that adults should be offered booster vaccination ( not funded) especially those working with young children, pregnant women and babies

Pregnant women should be offered vaccination in last trimester of each pregnancy to protect their new-born

For more info http://www.health.govt.nz/yourhealth-topics/diseases-and-illnesses/whooping-cough

 

© Student Health Service
Cnr Walsh & Albany Streets
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand

Freephone 0800 479 821

Tel 64 3 479 8212
Fax 64 3 479 8106

Email student-health@otago.ac.nz
(Please do not email to cancel or make appointments)