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09th Mar 2018

A young girl has passed away after suspected meningitis outbreak in Meath

Keeley Ryan

Parents are being encouraged to be vigilant for signs and symptoms.

An investigation has been launched after a young girl died and another was hospitalised with “suspected” meningitis in Navan, Meath.

The HSE said in a statement that the cases concern two children under the age of 12.

Both of the cases were reported to the Department of Public Health, HSE North East on March 9.

The HSE said that the spread of meningococcal meningitis from person-to-person is “very rare”, especially outside of close household contact.

Members of the HSE Health Protection Team are working closely with parents, guardians and teachers at the school where both of the girls attended.

Dr Paul Kavanagh, Director of Public Health Medicine HSE North East, acknowledged the concerns of parents and guardians in the area as he said the HSE are making sure “appropriate public health measures are put in place.”

He added:

“Our thoughts in the first instance are clearly with the families of these two children, and particularly with the family of the child who sadly and tragically died.

“We are obviously very much aware of the anxiety that is being experienced locally and our focus is to ensure appropriate public health measures are put in place.

“Our medical experts are working closely with the school where they attended, advising and supporting parents, guardians and teachers.

“They are also working with the clinical staff who cared for the cases and their families.”

Dr Kavanagh also stressed the need for parents to be vigilant and keep an eye on signs and symptoms of the disease.

He said:

“Vaccination means that meningitis has become a rare occurrence.

“When it does occur, cases are usually isolated  – spread from person to person is unusual, especially outside household contact.

“Vigilance for symptoms is important especially for younger children and adolescents.”

Meningitis is when inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord occurs.

The illness occurs most frequently in young children and adolescents, usually as isolated cases.

It can be caused by a variety of different germs, mainly bacterial and viruses.

The HSE said that viral meningitis is the type that is seen most commonly, but is rarely fatal.

Bacterial meningitis is less common and typically more severe. It can be fatal and needs urgent treatment with antibiotics.

Signs and Symptoms may include:

· Severe Headaches
· Fever
· Vomiting
· Drowsiness
· Discomfort from bright light
· Neck stiffness

The HSE encouraged anyone with concerns to contact their GP first, but make sure that they seek medical advice.