Public Reminded To Guard Against Meningococcal Infection

Armen Hareyan's picture

Meningococcal Infection

Hong Kong Department of Health confirmed a case of meningococcal infection, a communicable disease transmitted by direct contact with infected persons' droplets.

The case involved an 81-year-old woman living in Shatin. She developed fever and shortness of breath on November 1 and was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital on the same day. She is now in stable condition.

She has no travel history within the incubation period. Investigation carried out by CHP revealed that her home contacts have no symptoms of meningococcal infection.

A spokesman for CHP said that meningococcal infection is caused by a bacterium known as meningococcus. It is transmitted by direct contact, including droplets from the nose and throat of infected people. The incubation period varies from two to 10 days, commonly three to four days.

The clinical picture may be variable. Severe illness may result when the bacteria invade the bloodstream (causing meningococcaemia) or the brain (causing meningitis).

Meningococcaemia is characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense headache, purpura, shock and even death in severe cases. Meningitis is characterised by the sudden onset of intense headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, photophobia and stiff neck. Early cases can be treated effectively with antibiotics.


This is the second case of meningococcal infection in 2007.

Three cases of meningococcal infection were reported in 2003, four in 2004, four in 2005 and six in 2006.

Members of the public are advised to:

- Wash hands frequently, observe good personal and environmental hygiene;

- Avoid crowded places;

- Avoid close contact with patients who have fever or severe headache; and

- Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with tissue, discard it into a bin with a lid and wash hands immediately.

Travellers returning from endemic areas should consult doctors promptly if they feel unwell after the trip. Let your doctor know your travel history.