A child has become the Hunter’s fifth meningococcal case this year, Hunter New England Health has confirmed.
Doctors have prescribed clearance antibiotics for the child’s family, and authorities say there are no links between this case and previous outbreaks.
Public health physician Dr Tony Merritt said the illness usually resulted in a complete recovery when detected early and treated, but was not to be taken lightly.
"can be potentially deadly and if anyone suspects symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately," Dr Merritt said.
Early signs include pain in the legs, cold hands and feet and abnormal skin colour. Later symptoms may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting, a rash of reddish-purple spots or bruises, and drowsiness.
Babies with the infection can be irritable, not feed properly and have an abnormal cry.
Several strains of meningococcal bacteria cause disease in Australia, with the meningococcal strain becoming rare after the 2003 National Immunisation Program.
That vaccination is free and recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation at 12 months of age.
The disease is spread by secretions from the nose and throat of a person who is carrying it and close and prolonged contact is needed to pass it on.
SOURCE: Newcastle Herald