Aspiring pupils urged to remain alert

Ongoing awareness of meningococcal disease is being encouraged, despite Public Health South saying the risk of another case linked to two Wanaka pupils is unlikely.

Earlier this month two Mount Aspiring College pupils, Bella Berry and Christy Facer, were diagnosed with the disease, less than a week apart.

Both pupils have now been discharged from hospital.

An eradication programme was set up by Public Health South after Christy was diagnosed with the disease.

More than 300 senior pupils were given antibiotics to clear meningococcal causing bacteria from the nose and throats of carriers.

Medical officer of health Dr Naomi Gough said even though another case was unlikely to occur, people still needed to be vigilant, particularly teenagers and young adults.

There have been no further cases of the disease in Wanaka since the programme started and it was now unlikely there would be another case linked to the two pupils, she said.

Dr Gough encouraged people to share a post from the Southern District Health Board Facebook page, which had tips for young people on how to look for the disease.

There have been 17 cases of meningococcal disease in the SDHB area this year, more than double the yearly average since 2007.

Seven of those, including Bella Berry, were the meningococcal epidemic B strain, which was targeted in a vaccination programme from 2004 to 2006.

Earlier this month the Otago Daily Times reported the Ministry of Health and Pharmac were working together to find a source of a meningococcal B vaccine which could be used in the southern area if there were more cases of the disease.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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