Teenager was 'sent home with painkillers' before dying of meningococcal
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Teenager was 'sent home with painkillers' before dying of meningococcal

Gosford Hospital has launched an investigation into the death of a 19-year-old woman who was reportedly sent home from the hospital with painkillers before being re-admitted and diagnosed with meningococcal.

Mischelle Rhodes died at the Central Coast hospital of meningococcal last week.

She had contracted the meningococcal W strain, the Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) confirmed on Tuesday.

Mischelle Rhodes was reportedly sent home from Gosford Hospital before being admitted and diagnosed with meningococcal.

Mischelle Rhodes was reportedly sent home from Gosford Hospital before being admitted and diagnosed with meningococcal.Credit:Facebook

Ms Rhodes’ mother said hospital staff sent her daughter home from Gosford Hospital with analgesics last Tuesday.

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She later returned to the hospital and was admitted after her condition worsened.

"And [Mischelle] told me, 'Doctors told me I'm going to die," the sobbing mother told the Seven Network. "I thought she was going to be okay."

Ms Rhodes begged people to be aware of the symptoms and insistent on treatment.

"Don't leave hospital 'til everything has been looked at - all the blood tests," she said.

"It just took my beautiful girl away so fast."

A spokesperson for CCLHD said there would be a review of the details of the case as part of the District’s standard processes.

“The symptoms of meningococcal disease are often non-specific in the initial stages,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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“NSW Health information emphasises that meningococcal disease symptoms can evolve rapidly, and if you’ve already seen a doctor but symptoms continue to worsen, consult your doctor again or go back to the Emergency Department,” the statement read.

The spokesperson said the District was in contact with the family to offer support and reiterated their sincere condolences to Mr Rhodes’ family

The Macquarie University student is the second person to die of the disease on the Central Coast this year, and the third reported case in the area.

A 38-year-old woman also died of the meningococcal W strain in August.

Close contacts of the 19-year-old have been prescribed clearance antibiotics to reduce the risk of meningococcal spreading to others.

"Our thoughts are with the family of this young woman at this tragic time," CCLHD director of public health Peter Lewis said on Monday.

"If anyone in the community develops any symptoms of meningococcal disease, it's important that they seek medical advice immediately," Dr Lewis said.

Nine people have died from meningococcal disease in Australia in the past two years: four from the meningococcal B strain, one from meningococcal C, one W and two Y according to NSW Health.

From 2013, Australia saw a rapid increase in the highly virulent strain of meningococcal W, with an associated rise in meningococcal Y infection.

There have been 41 cases of meningococcal across NSW so far this year. In 2017, there were 91 confirmed cases.

Meningococcal B has been the most dominant strain, accounting for 43 cases in 2017 and 19 in 2018. Meningococcal W accounted for 11 cases so far this year.

Meningococcal disease is very uncommon in NSW and the bacteria are not easily spread from person to person as they do not survive well outside the human body, Dr Lewis said.

Bacteria are passed between people in the secretions from the back of the nose and throat from prolonged contact with an affected person, usually living in the same household.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness, joint pain, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises, dislike of bright lights, nausea and vomiting.

There is no known link between this case and the recent death of a 38-year-old Central Coast woman from the W strain of meningococcal disease, the CCLHD said.

The NSW government has invested $17 million in the Meningococcal W Response Program since 2017.

The vaccine was offered free to students in year 11 and year 12 in 2017 and to students in years 10 and 11 in 2018, and will be extended to students in year 10 in 2019.

More than 200,000 teenagers have been vaccinated with the meningococcal ACWY vaccine already, NSW Health said.

Young people aged 15 to 19 who did not receive the vaccine at school are able to receive it for free from their GP until the end of this year.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine is also given to children aged 12 months under the national schedule.

With AAP