Coast doctor's demand in battle against rare meningococcal strain
QUEENSLAND Health has confirmed a case of the deadly, invasive meningococcal disease on the Sunshine Coast with another possible case being monitored.
The confirmed case was not a strain of the dangerous bacteria children would be routinely vaccinated against.
It was a notification of "serogroup Y invasive meningococcal disease".
Children were vaccinated against the meningococcal C as part of routine childhood immunisations.
Sunshine Coast GP Dr Mason Stevenson said he also had concerns he had a case of "meningism" in a young child yesterday.
Meningisms is a set of symptoms similar to those caused by meningitis.
"I had child yesterday came in with meningisms, the child may have had early meningitis.
"I advised the parents to take the child to hospital if its condition deteriorated further."
The Australian Department of Health website advised up to one in 10 patients with "invasive meningococcal disease in Australia dies".
" Of those who survive, one in 30 has severe skin scarring or loss of limbs, and one in 30 has severe brain damage."
Sunshine Coast toddler Finn Smith nearly died and lost parts of his limbs when he contracted the deadly meningococcal
Dr Stevenson said there was a rise in cases of meningococcal world-wide and a growing push to immunise people against the different strains of the disease.
"We are seeing an emergence of other strains," he said.
"It can affect a diverse range of ages, particularly the elderly.
"There is a meningococcal vaccine that covers a range of strains, including Y and there is now a push to promote this broad spectrum vaccine.
"Cases like this reinforce the need."
The strains of the bacteria were continuously evolving to survive.
"The fight against viruses, bacteria and fungi will be an eternal fight as they evolve to find hosts," Dr Stevenson said.
"That includes human hosts. The (bacteria) can mean death or disability to those affected.".
But the latest vaccination rates showed an increasing number of people on the Sunshine Coast weren't taking up their free vaccinations.
"Figures that have come in show Noosa now has the lowest vaccination rate in Queensland at only 85%," Dr Stevenson said.
"Unfortunately through false science or through apathy or, frankly, neglect parents are not properly vaccinating their children.
"One in six children in the Noosa region now has been inadequately vaccinated."
The child that presented at his practice with meningisms was one of them.
"This will haunt those children as they become adults," he said.
"Many will want to travel overseas and will be largely unprotected against more exotic bugs in faraway places.
"Many do suffer as a result and it is largely avoidable.
"The other reality is when we do see young adults coming to us wanting to go overseas, it costs many hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to have catch up vaccinations.
"It is a fairly expensive program that costs government hundreds of millions dollars every year."