Meningitis concerns

By ED SOUTHORN

Health reporter

TWEED parents have been urged to check the immunisation status of young children after the tragic death from meningitis of a young woman on Sydney's North Shore last week.

Tweed Valley Division of General Practice spokesman Dr Fergus Ring said latest statistics showed 77 per cent of local children aged 12 to 18 months in Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads and the Tweed Coast were fully immunised.

He said this "very low rate" comparatively was "very concerning" as meningitis was life-threatening and can leave survivors with serious brain damage.

"Parents need to be particularly vigilant for signs of meningitis as we approach the peak time of year for infections in late winter and early spring," Dr Ring said.

Meningitis features a sudden onset of fever, headaches, a high-pitched cry in babies, vomiting, sensitivity to light and a rash.

Dr Ring said there were many types of meningitis, and vaccination does not always guarantee protection.

The vaccination warning coincides with the launch this week of a NSW-wide public awareness campaign aiming to reduce the spread of flu and other winter ailments.

The "Contain the Nasties of the Flu" ad campaign, in newspapers and on buses, includes images of droplets spraying from a person's nose and mouth.

Acting NSW Health Minister Frank Sartor said the campaign aimed to improve people's understanding of how influenza is transmitted.

"It graphically shows the droplets that a diseased person sprays into the air, and onto people around them, with every sneeze," Mr Sartor said.

"This is particularly important now we are in the period where seasonal influenza typically takes hold," he said.



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