The two cases of the disease are unrelated, health authorities have said. (ABC News: Natasha Johnson)
A 15-year-old boy has become the second person diagnosed with meningococcal disease in Tasmania in a week, and the ninth in two months, in an outbreak which has claimed one life.
The announcement late on Thursday that the boy from Launceston had been diagnosed with meningococcal B disease and was in a stable condition in the Launceston General Hospital came days after a four-year-old girl from East Devonport was taken to Royal Hobart Hospital this week.
Faline Howes, communicable diseases clinical director with Public Health Services, said there were “no links” between the cases.
“There is no indication of an outbreak of meningococcal B disease in the north or north-west,” Dr Howes said in a statement.
The latest case is the ninth in the state in two months. It is the second outside the greater Hobart area.
There have been seven cases in the south, one in the north west of the state and one in the north-east, Dr Howes said.
Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch said it was always a sad situation when a new case was found.
“We are taking advice from public health experts on the provision of the vaccination program and also their advice for people not to be alarmed,” Mr Jaensch said.
“One new case doesn’t necessarily mean that there is going to be more, but we encourage people to take up the opportunity of vaccination for their young people.”
Vaccines had to be ordered from the mainland to meet demand in Tasmania. (ABC News: Selina Ross)
The rate of meningococcal B disease in Tasmania is similar to the Australian rate, while the rate of meningococcal W disease in Tasmania over recent years has been much higher than the national rate.
Five of the nine meningococcal disease cases this year were meningococcal W.
“Meningococcal B vaccine is available on private prescription from your GP,” Dr Howes said.
“All Tasmanians born after 1 August 1997 and at least six weeks old are eligible for a free meningococcal vaccination covering the strains ACWY.”
Dr Howes said the most recent previous case of meningococcal B disease was in the state’s north in November 2017.
Cases of meningococcal disease are slightly more common during winter and spring, but can occur at any time in any place and affect people of any age.
The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include fever, severe headache, confusion, severe muscle pain, and rash.
People who contract meningococcal disease typically progress from feeling well to feeling extremely unwell very quickly.
Babies and infants may not have these symptoms but can be unsettled or drowsy, pale or blotchy, floppy and not feeding.
Authorities urge people who suspect they or others may have contracted meningococcal disease to seek emergency medical care immediately.