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
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 3 months.
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