A young university student has become the 50th Queenslander this year to be struck down with meningococcal disease.
Phoebe O’Connell, 18, is fighting for life in Brisbane’s Mater Private Hospital after she was diagnosed with meningococcal Y.
The University of Queensland student presented to the hospital last week after bouts of vomiting, diarrhoea and a severe headache, The Courier Mail reported.
University student Phoebe O’Connell (pictured) is the 50th Queenslander this year to be struck down with meningococcal disease
The former All Hallows’ School student’s illness comes just one month after Brisbane interior stylist Dianne Leybourne, 53 was struck down with the B strain.
She spent a week in hospital.
‘They’d never seen anyone my age with meningococcal; from the nurses to the pathologists, there was not one person who didn’t think I was an oddity; everyone was amazed,’ Ms Leybourne told the Courier Mail this week.
The disease has been on the rise in Queensland in the last three years. In 2015, 28 people were diagnosed.
Another young Queenslander Zoe McGinty died of the W strain last year, just hours after falling ill.
Ms O’Connell is now fighting for life in Brsbane’s Mater Private Hospital (pictured)
Phoebe O’Connell (pictured) was diagnosed with the meningococcal Y strain
Her mother Kirsten McGinty has since advocated for free vaccines to be accessible to all Australians, with the support of her late daughter’s boyfriend Simon Taylor.
‘I have remained in constant contact with Zoe’s family, and I 100 per cent believe in what Kirsten is trying to do,’ Mr Taylor told Daily Mail Australia earlier this year.
‘Vaccines should be free for all strains and all ages so no one else has to go through the grief we have all been through. Not only has this disease taken Zoe away from me, it has also robbed Zoe of everything she wanted to accomplish in her life.’
Meningococcal disease is an acute bacterial infection often transmitted from the throat or nose that infects the rest of the body.
There are five main strains of the disease, with B and W the most prevalent.
Symptoms include fever, nausea or vomiting, lack of energy, tiredness or drowsiness, confusion or disorientation, dizziness and a sore throat.
Although most make a full recovery, 10 per cent die from the disease, while another 20 per cent are left permanent disabilities, according to Meningococcal Australia.
Queensland media student Zoe McGinty (pictured) died of the W strain last year, just hours after falling ill
Other long term health complications include limb deformity, skin scarring, deafness and possible loss of brain function.
The vaccine against A, C, W, Y costs $100 while the two-jab B procedure is upwards of $250.
Queensland’s free ACWY vaccine for teens aged 15-19 is due to end this month while the school-based Year 10 program ends in 2021.
The free vaccine program for to all year 10 students in Victoria will end later this month.
The NSW Meningococcal W Response Program offers a single dose of the ACWY vaccine to students in Years 10 and 11.
South Australia offers free B jabs for under-4s, which will be extended to Year 10 and 11 students next year, along with a catch-up program for aged 17-21.
ACT Health implemented its ACWY vaccination program for Year 10 students earlier this year, which since been extended to years 11-12.
In Tasmania, anyone born after 1 August 1 1997 can get the free ACWY vaccine from six-weeks-old.
The ACWY vaccine program has been expanded to everyone aged 1-19 in the Northern Territory while in Western Australia, free vaccination programs currently available for ages 1-5 and 15 to 19.
There are growing calls for meningococcal vaccines to be free for all Australians