Meningococcal strikes

A SIX-year-old Cooran boy airlifted from Gympie on Sunday afternoon with meningococcal was in a stable condition "and improving" in the Royal Children's Hospital this week as a local school assessed its risk level.

He is believed to be a student at Cooran State School, but Education Queensland's North Coast regional director Greg Peach North Coast Region will not identify the learning centre by name.

Mr Peach said Education Queensland was working closely with Queensland Health following advice a North Coast Region school student had been diagnosed with meningococcal disease.

"Queensland Health has advised that risk to the wider school community is minimal and has provided information to the school principal which has been relayed to parents," Mr Peach said.

"The school will stay in close contact with the local Queensland Health Public Health Unit and follow their advice. The school will also continue to offer its support to the family involved and our thoughts are with the student for a speedy recovery."

Mr Peach said if parents suspected their child might have a contagious condition they were advised not to send their child to school and to seek medical advice from their family doctor or Queensland Health.

Royal Children's chief executive Dr Jeannette Young said all close contacts of the case had been identified by Queensland Health and offered antibiotics "to clear the meningococcal bacteria from anyone who might be carrying it in their nose or throat, and prevent them from passing it on to some one else who may develop disease".

"I want to reassure parents that meningococcal disease is not highly infectious and Queensland Health will make direct contact with those in need of follow-up," she said.

Dr Young said meningococcal disease was a severe but uncommon infection caused by a bacterial germ.

"About 10% of people carry meningococcal bacteria in their throats and noses without having any symptoms," she said.

"It is important to emphasise that this is not a virus, and it does not spread easily."

In 2012 to date, there have been 33 confirmed cases of meningococcal in Queensland.

Anyone with concerns is encouraged to call the 13HEALTH (13 432 584) hotline.

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