I ignored these common symptoms after returning from vacation — it almost killed me


Claudia Gill was just 18 when she arrived hours after her death from a meningococcal attack on her body.

Two years later, the student warned everyone to be wary of the symptoms.

After returning from an extended holiday in Queensland, the New South Wales woman was struck by fatigue, her ears were very sensitive to sound and a ringing was ringing in her head.

Her neck stiffened, she vomited and passed out.

The young woman was rushed to hospital and doctors discovered she was suffering from a life-threatening meningococcal B bacterial infection.

Doctors told her that if she had arrived at the hospital later, there was a good chance she would die.

The attack happened with frightening speed. Document to distribute to the family

His recovery required five nights in the hospital, weeks of rest and a gradual return to work and school. Two years later, Ms. Gill suffers from more regular and more intense headaches.

Once she was released from the hospital, she wanted to return to the community of people with the disease and find out what had attacked her body.

From there, Gill began speaking with community and advocacy groups and realized she would be a good test case for disease advocacy.

“It’s happening so quickly… it was quite scary,” Ms Gill said.

Claudia Gill was hospitalized after her neck stiffened, she vomited and fainted. Document to distribute to the family

She wants people to be aware of the symptoms so they can act quickly if they suspect an infection.

Gill only had a minor rash, which tends to be a later symptom often associated with meningococcus.

The rash followed gradual increase in sensitivity to light and sound, neck stiffness, nausea, back stiffness, vomiting, then full body stiffness and headache.

“If I had gotten a rash sooner, we would have acted sooner. But that’s why it’s so important to know all the symptoms,” she said.

Meningococcus is a type of bacteria that can enter your bloodstream and cause blood poisoning.

Vaccinations against the A, C, W and Y variants are free in Australia for newborns, 14-16 year olds and people with asplenia and hyposplenia, complement deficiency and those receiving treatment with eculizumab .

Gill was diagnosed with meningococcus B. The vaccine is free for people with the above immune conditions, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander newborns.

Meningococcal deaths in Australia are in the news due to the extensive vaccination coverage we have, but also the rapid onset of the disease.

Meningococcus is a bacteria that poisons your bloodstream. Getty Images

Last week, an adult in Western Australia died from the disease and two others were hospitalized; the cases were unrelated but were the first death in the state since 2020.

Gill studies in Newcastle, but is originally from Wollongong.

It was in Wollongong in late 2022 that 23-year-old Brayden Chater suffered brain death and died from meningococcus B. His condition deteriorated rapidly within 24 hours, going from feeling from fever to convulsions and unresponsiveness.

Doctors couldn’t tell Gill where she contracted the bacteria.

Across Australia, there were 143 laboratory-confirmed cases of all meningococcal variants in 2023. Infections were most common in toddlers and 15 to 19 year olds.

New South Wales recorded the highest number of cases (36) last year, but the Northern Territory and South Australia had the highest number of cases per capita, around one case per 100,000 residents.

So far in 2024, there have been 31 confirmed cases, with the largest number being South Australia’s total of nine. =site%20buttons

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