Meningitis outbreak alert after little girl (6) dies and second child seriously ill
An investigation is under way into a meningitis outbreak which claimed the life of a six-year-old girl and left another child seriously ill.
The little girl who died was last night named locally as Kayla Carey, a senior infants pupil at Scoil Mhuire in Navan, Co Meath.
It is understood that the second child, who is seriously ill in hospital, is also a pupil at the school.
Parents of children attending the school were briefed about the tragedy by HSE doctors.
The HSE confirmed the cases were reported to the Department of Public Health, HSE North East, yesterday.
"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," said HSE North East's director of public health medicine Dr Paul Kavanagh.
"We are obviously very much aware of the anxiety that is being experienced locally.
"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," he said.
"They are also working with the clinical staff who cared for the cases and their families.
"While advising vigilance in relation to looking out for signs and symptoms of the disease, the health protection team are actively managing the situation locally.
"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."
The HSE said meningitis is a serious illness involving inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a variety of different germs, mainly bacterial and viruses.
Bacterial meningitis is less common but usually more serious than viral meningitis and requires urgent treatment with antibiotics. Bacterial meningitis may be accompanied by septicaemia (blood poisoning).
The bacteria live naturally in the nose and throat of normally healthy people without causing illness. The spread of the bacteria is caused by droplets from the nose and mouth.
The illness occurs most frequently in young children and adolescents, usually as isolated cases. Bacterial meningitis or septicaemia requires urgent antibiotic treatment.
Signs and symptoms of meningitis may include:
• Severe headaches
• Discomfort from bright light
• Neck stiffness
The Meningitis Research Foundation said because it develops so quickly, meningitis can be a particularly devastating disease for those affected.
The HSE says anyone with any concerns should contact their GP in the first instance but ensure that medical expertise is sought. Further information can be found at www.hpsc.ie/a-z/vaccinepreventable/bacterialmeningitis/