Young man attending St John camp on Auckland island dies from suspected meningococcal disease

A young man attending a St John youth camp on Motutapu Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf died last night from a suspected case of meningococcal disease.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service says the man died in Auckland City Hospital after attending the youth camp with 190 people on the island.

The health service has since sent staff to the camp to provide protective antibiotics and assess risk, and says only a few people were “close contacts” and considered to be at risk of infection.

A friend of the young man was taken off the island as part of the medical evacuation last night and has been given antibiotics but is not considered unwell.

"The risk of the young people or staff being infected is very low, as the meningococcal bacterium is only spread by very close contact, or many hours of contact, with an infected person,” said ARPHS medical officer of health Dr Denise Barnfather.

Northland’s Public Health Unit is now talking to the family about who else might have been at risk in the previous seven days in which the young man was infectious. 

"Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and can be difficult to diagnose...It can look like the flu early on but quickly gets much worse," said Dr Barnfather.

ARPHS warns the public to look out for symptoms of meningococcal disease, which can include fever, headache, vomiting, joint pains, aching muscles, stiff neck, and rashes with purple or red spots or bruises.

The camp is set to continue until tomorrow then all attendees will return home.

There are an average of 29 cases of meningococcal disease annually in Auckland, however numbers vary from seven to 47 in 2017, the regional health service said.

Anitibiotics have been given to those who'd been in close contact to the young man. Source: 1 NEWS