Meningococcal alarm: courtroom evacuated 

Maitland Court House was in a state of lock down yesterday over a meningococcal scare. 

The courtroom was evacuated about 11.30am when it was revealed a defendant had been closely exposed to the infectious disease but had not taken the clearance medication prescribed to him. 

The man and his father were the co-accused in a defended hearing over an alleged menacing driving incident from last year.

After multiple false starts the hearing was to proceed.

However the solicitor, acting on behalf of both the father and son, was forced to request an adjournment when the older man suddenly became violently ill outside the courthouse. 

In her application to the court the solicitor said her client – the father – had been vomiting since 6am after taking a meningococcal treatment that brought on severe nausea. 

The court heard the man’s 16-year-old son – the brother of the co-accused – had been diagnosed with meningococcal disease over the weekend and was being treated in the intensive care ward of John Hunter Hospital.

When the solicitor asked the co-accused why he wasn’t showing nausea symptoms he revealed he had not taken the medication. 

Magistrate Sharron Crews granted the adjournment to May 24 but urged the solicitor to have her client take the medication as soon as possible. 

After a short recess, court staff ushered members of the public out of the courtroom. 

The court was closed as a precaution for about 20 minutes while health authorities were consulted.  

Meningococcal infection is caused by a bacterium that is carried, usually harmlessly, in the nose and throat by up to 10 per cent of people.

Symptoms in older children and adults include headache, fever, vomiting, neck stiffness and joint pains, drowsiness or confusion, a rash of reddish-purple spots or bruises.

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