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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 involves a 4-year-old girl, with good past health, who lives in Sai Kung.

     The girl presented with fever, chills, a runny nose, cough and skin rash since March 10. She was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital on the same day.

     A blood specimen taken from the girl grew Neisseria meningitidis. She is in a stable condition.

     The girl has no recent travel history. Her home contacts are asymptomatic.

     The CHP's investigation is continuing.

     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/Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:00


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