Australian mum’s warning after “teething symptoms” almost led to baby girl’s death.

meningococcal-symptoms

South Australian mum Tiffany Henderson knows all too well how quickly meningococcal disease can become life-threatening.

In a matter of minutes, her seven-month-old daughter Violet went from having purple-tinged lips to lying limp.

The Murray Bridge mum told Nine News she rushed her baby girl to the nearest medical clinic when this happened, but had missed the early signs of the often deadly disease.

“It just looked like teething symptoms, she wasn’t eating properly,” the mum explained.

meningococcal-symptoms
Tiffany, her partner Peter, and their little girl, Violet. Image: Nine News

Many parents will recognise meningococcal by its distinctive rash - which is actually a sign of septicaemia, or blood poisoning. But as paediatrician Dr Margie Danchin told Mamamia, the rash is usually not the first sign that a child is unwell.

The disease can also take hold in the body at first in the brain, causing meningitis - an inflammation of the brain or spinal cord membranes. In this case there will only be a rash if the disease is allowed to progress to septicaemia, at which point the child is very ill.

Tiffany Henderson was lucky that she got her daughter to emergency care before waiting for further symptoms.

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It was only after being transported by ambulance to Roxby Downs Hospital, that she and doctors noticed spots starting to appear on Violet's legs and stomach.

meningococcal-symptoms
Red dots only began to appear after Violet was taken to hospital. Image: Nine News.

At that point, she was flown to Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide and diagnosed with meningococcal B.

"If I didn't have her there when I did, she could've been leaving with no legs or not leaving at all, so it was pretty serious," Henderson told Nine News.

"I didn't think I was leaving with my baby."

But the mum, and Violet's father, Peter Duffield, were thankfully able to take their baby girl home from hospital this month - two weeks after she was admitted.

The parents fully support the state's new Australia-first program to offer free vaccines for meningococcal B for babies and children, beginning in October.

In fact, they said they think it should be already in effect.

The five most common strains of the meningococcal bacteria - A, B, C, Y and W - are all able to be vaccinated against.

As of July 1 this year, the A, C, W and Y strain vaccine is covered by the government's National Immunisation Program. However, parents across Australia can choose to pay to have their children vaccinated against strain B.

Kyly Clarke explains the symptoms of meningococcal disease parents should look out for:

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