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Vigilance urged against meningococcal infection

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a confirmed case of meningococcal infection, a communicable disease transmitted by direct contact with droplets from carriers or infected persons, and has appealed to the public for vigilance.

     The case affected a 7-month-old baby boy with good past health who lives in Sha Tin.

     The baby presented with fever, runny nose and vomiting since February 26. He was brought to the Accident and Emergency Department of Prince of Wales Hospital on the following day and was admitted for management on the same day. He later developed convulsion and epilepticus on February 28 and 29 respectively.

     The baby's cerebrospinal fluid specimen detected Neisseria meningitidis. The patient is in a stable condition.

     The baby has no recent travel history. His home contacts are asymptomatic.

     The CHP's investigation is continuing.

     This is the second confirmed case of meningococcal infection this year. Eight cases were reported in 2011 and two in 2010.

     A spokesman for the CHP said that meningococcal infection is caused by a bacterium known as meningococcus. It is transmitted by direct contact, including droplets from the nose and throat of infected people. The incubation period varies from two to 10 days, commonly three to four days.

     The clinical picture may vary. Severe illness may result when the bacterium invades the bloodstream (causing meningococcaemia) or the brain (causing meningitis).

     Meningococcaemia is characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense headache, purpura, shock and even death in severe cases. Meningitis is characterised by the sudden onset of intense headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, photophobia and stiff neck. Early cases can be treated effectively with antibiotics.

    To prevent meningococcal infection, members of the public are advised to:

* Wash hands frequently, and observe good personal and environmental hygiene practices;
* Avoid crowded places;
* Avoid close contact with patients who have fever or severe headache; and
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with tissue and discard it into a bin with a lid, and wash hands immediately.

     Members of the public can visit the CHP's website,, for general information about the infection.

Ends/Monday, March 5, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:19


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