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23 November 2001 News Update


Cases of meningococcal disease are occurring in New Zealand beyond the usual winter/spring peak season rates, warns the Ministry of Health.

Notifications normally drop from mid-October. However, 32 new cases and one death were recorded in the first two weeks of November, bringing the total deaths this year to 25, and the total number of new cases to 574.

Ministry spokesperson Dr Jane O'Halloran said that it is likely that the total number of cases this year will exceed the previous peak year of 1997, when 24 deaths and 613 cases were recorded.

The ministry is warning health professionals and the public to be vigilant as the epidemic shows no sign of abating. Parents of small children should be especially watchful for signs of the disease such as fever, vomiting, excessive sleepiness, refusing drinks or feeds, and crying. A rash like blood spots under the skin may also appear at a later stage.

Cases have appeared over all parts of New Zealand this year, with hard-hit regions including Waikato, Northland, south and central Auckland, and Otago.

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