The death of a 14-month-old baby in Northland DHB last month was caused by meningococcal disease, lab tests have confirmed.
Northland District Health Board today confirmed that the infant died from the B strain of the deadly virus.
The baby, whose name and gender have not been revealed, was taken to an after-hours GP when they became ill on Sunday, October 14. They died at home in the early hours of the next morning.
It is the first death, and the third case of meningococcal disease in Northland this year.
Northland medical officer of health Dr Jonathan Jarman said that meningococcal disease was a very unpredictable illness.
"Initially it can present like the flu or a tummy bug, but the difference is meningococcal disease can get worse very quickly," he said.
"Some people do not even get sick when they catch the bug, however a small number rapidly develop invasive meningococcal disease."
Jarman has met with the child's family, and said it is one of the saddest cases he has seen in his career.
"This case was an example of how quickly meningococcal disease can progress, and I understand the sorrow and anger the family are dealing with at this time," he said.
Jarman urged the importance of seeking medical advice swiftly if a child becomes unwell.
"If your child is sick take them to the doctor. And if they don't get better, or if you worried, go back to the doctor," he advised concerned parents.
An investigation into the death will be led by Te Tai Tokerau PHO, which will look at the management of the case by the GP, the DHB said.