A grieving Wellington family is issuing a warning about a meningococcal disease outbreak that claimed the life of their 12-year-old daughter within hours.
Amanda Crook-Barker was feeling a little bit sick on Monday
morning and stayed home but by 5pm that evening she was dead.
The fun loving girl is the latest victim of a deadly aggressive disease.
Amanda's mother, Lisa Crook, told ONE News she wanted to let her daughter know she was there for her as she fought the disease.
"I just kept calling out to her 'Mandy, Mandy' 'cause I wanted her to hear me. I just wanted her to hear that I was there."
Check out this fact sheet on menigococcal disease
Amanda's father, Scott Barker, also spoke words of encouragement to his ill daughter.
"She couldn't see me - it robbed her of her sight - but she could hear me and I told her that I loved her and that I was proud of her."
A month shy of turning 13, Amanda died from meningococcal disease, despite being vaccinated.
Her sudden death has shocked her family.
"She was actually a really healthy child. And that, I think, hurts more because there's nothing I could pinpoint that could have made her get so sick so fast," Crook said.
Amanda's grandfather, Tracy Crook, says she was the apple of his eye and "is going to be missed big time".
The hurt is also being felt at Evans Bay Intermediate where Amanda was a school leader.
Principal Wendy Esera says the 12-year-old's death has had a huge impact.
"Lots of tears shed, some of our great big macho boys sobbing in the hall yesterday morning and classroom teachers having to support and yet they were sobbing too."
In Amanda's honour, the school is holding a special mufti day tomorrow to raise the extra $1000 needed for her funeral.
That funeral will be hosted by the school on Saturday, with the grounds transformed into a canvas for staff and students to say goodbye to Amanda by writing tributes to her on the pavement.
Amanda is the third person to die from meningococcal disease in New Zealand this year.
The symptoms of the illness may include fever, confusion, sleepiness, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, joint pain and the appearance of a rash. Children and babies may also refuse feeds, can be floppy and experience vomiting.
Auckland Medical Officer of Health Andrew Lindsay says early detection is the key.
"See a doctor immediately. Go back to your doctor if you've been sent away if things are becoming worse. It's very important to insist on getting help," Dr Lindsay said.
"Even if you or your child has been vaccinated, you are still vulnerable to catching the disease, so please see a doctor if you are at all concerned."
Amanda's mother is backing that advice.
"I wouldn't take no for an answer. If you're concerned about your child and you ring up a hospital or take them to the doctors and get sent home and something in your heart says it's not right then don't leave," Crook said.
Amanda's parents hope that message will help save the lives of other children.
Alert in Auckland
Meanwhile, five confirmed cases of meningococcal disease have been reported across the Auckland region in the past week.
Auckland Regional Public Health Services (ARPHS) says it has received notification of the cases but there have been no fatalities reported in relation to them and investigations have not established a link between the cases.
Meningococcal disease is a serious illness and can be life
threatening if not recognised and treated early, ARPHS said