Third Meningococcal case at college

There are a total of three students at Studholme College who have been diagnosed with the...
There are a total of three students at Studholme College who have been diagnosed with the condition this year. Photo: ODT file

Staff and students at Studholme College have been offered antibiotics, after a student was diagnosed with meningococcal disease today becoming the third student to be affected this year.

There have now been a total of three students at the college diagnosed with the condition this year, with two others receiving diagnoses of the same strain of the disease in March and May.

In the last week one other University of Otago student has been diagnosed with the condition, but his case was not linked to the ones at Studholme.

A statement from the Southern District Health Board put out yesterday afternoon said the student was doing well in Dunedin Hospital.

Medical officer of health Keith Reid said the antibiotics were also offered to close contacts of the student, to reduce the risk of further cases.

"To have two or more people unwell with meningococcal disease in a college is rare,'' he said.

"If only one student developed meningococcal disease the risk to everyone else is no different than usual.

"In this circumstance however, where two students had developed the same strain of meningococcal disease and a third is possible, the risk to others is increased,''
Dr Reid said.

Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can look like other illnesses, such as the flu, the Ministry of Health advises.

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can potentially lead to either meningitis (an inflammation  of the brain) or blood poisoning (septicaemia).

What to look for

Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can look like other illnesses, such as the flu, the Ministry of Health advises.

Symptoms of meningitis can develop suddenly and include:

• a high fever
• headache
• sleepiness
• joint and muscle pains.

There can also be some more specific symptoms, such as:

• a stiff neck
• dislike of bright lights
• vomiting
• a rash consisting of reddish-purple pin-prick spots or bruises.

What to do

• If you or anyone in your family has these symptoms, call your doctor straight away or dial 111. Say what the symptoms are.

• You can also call Healthline free on 0800 611 116, 24 hours a day - even if you have already been seen by a health professional.

• If you have seen a doctor and gone home, but are still concerned, don't hesitate to call your doctor again or seek further medical advice. Don’t be put off. Insist on immediate action.

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