Perth Woman, The Fifth Death Caused by Meningococcal W Disease
Meningococcal W has claimed the life of a Perth woman in her 20s, making her the fifth death caused by the disease, the Health Department revealed.
Details were not released due to the decision of the victim’s family not to reveal any information. But the young woman’s colleagues in a government department were notified of her death last week. A Health Department spokesman also spoke with them to seek medical attention in case they had contact with her while diagnosed with the disease.
Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis or meningococcus, which include infections of the bloodstream and the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It can also affect other parts of the body, such as the throat or large joints. There are 13 serogroups and the most common cause of Meningococcal disease are by serogroups A, B, C, W and Y.
This year, there have been 40 cases of various strains of meningococcal, which is higher than the 23 cases in 2016. Within these 40 cases, 18 have gotten the W strain, which is much higher than the long-term average of one case a year.
In terms of death tolls, five people have died so far, which is higher from the three deaths from last year. The latest deaths were the young woman and a young child who died last month.
“It’s very sad to lose anybody in the community to such a particularly nasty disease, but Western Australia is doing everything we can to protect West Australian citizens from meningococcal, particularly meningococcal W,” West Australian Health Minister Roger Cook said.
“We’ve got a community campaign vaccination program which is taking place in Kalgoorlie. In addition to that, we’ve also got a statewide program focused on the 15 to 17-year-olds.”
Mr Cook said he has sent a letter addressed to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, pushing him to introduce a national vaccination program.
“We’re doing the heavy lifting on behalf of the Federal Government, as is often the case in Western Australia, and it’s time the Federal Government got its act together and introduced a national program so we don’t have these outbreaks.”