Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

22 July 2002

Ambassador Flies to Venice Following Suspected Meningococcal Death

Australia’s Ambassador to Italy is flying to Venice today to liaise with Italian authorities following the death of an Australian traveller from suspected meningococcal disease.

The 25-year-old Sydney man was in Rome on a Contiki “European Experience” Tour when he became ill and was hospitalised yesterday. He died last night.

The tour group, including 47 Australians, continued on to Venice following his hospitalisation but has now been confined to a camp ground pending the provision of appropriate preventative medication. Australian embassy officials in Rome are working to ensure this medication is provided today.

Embassy officials are also in contact with the group leader and Contiki management in London. They have put Contiki in touch with public health officials in Venice and are urging Venetian authorities to brief the group on the disease and the need to be vigilant for symptoms. Australia’s Ambassador, Murray Cobban, will reinforce this message on arrival in Venice.

The Contiki tour left London on 12 July on a tour to 10 countries including France, Monaco, Italy, the Vatican City, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium. It is due to return to London on 31 July.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra is providing consular assistance to family members.