People who become ill after recovering from flu may be at risk of meningococcal and pneumococcal disease - HPSC

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The Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Monday) asked people who have recently recovered from flu and who have become very unwell again with high fever shortly after, to seek medical attention as they may be at slight risk from meningococcal and pneumococcal disease.

HPSC has seen an increase in both diseases and while both are rare, they mostly occur in winter and can be associated with high influenza activity, says HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Suzanne Cotter. 

"Symptoms of meningococcal or pneumococcal meningitis or septicaemia in infants include high fever, floppiness, high pitched crying and sometimes vomiting. Older children and adults suffer from fever, malaise and headache, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness or difficulty rousing and a red rash may also occur. Anyone who develops any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

"Battling the flu can affect someone’s natural immunity and may make them more vulnerable to infection with these bugs. The very young, the over 65s or those with chronic illness may be particularly at risk.

“A total of 26 cases of meningococcal disease were reported in December 2008 compared with 13 in December 2007. Most were reported in week 53 (end December /January) when 11 cases were notified. Six cases have been provisionally reported for the first week of January.

"Fifty-eight cases of invasive pneumococcal disease were reported at the end of December 2008 compared with 29 cases in the same period last year. Sixteen cases were reported in the last week of December and 26 cases have been provisionally notified in the first week of January.

"Vaccines to protect young children and at risk children and adults against the most common strains of pneumoccocal disease are routinely recommended. All children born since 2nd September 2006 are offered pneumococcal conjugate vaccine as part of the new vaccination programme which started in September 2008.

"Vaccination against Meningococcal Serogroup C has been available since 2000 and is routinely recommended for all children and young adults up to the age of 23 years. Older people and those with no spleens or with poorly functioning spleens are also recommended to get the MenC vaccination.