MENINGITIS WARNING: Kilkenny public urged to be vigilant as HSE confirm three deaths
PEOPLE in Kilkenny and across the country have been urged to be vigilant for the symptoms of meningitis after the Health Service Executive (HSE) tonight confirmed three people have died from the condition in the past three weeks.
A total of 11 cases of meningococcal meningitis have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) since the last week in December. Three of those patients died directly due to the infection, reports have confirmed.
According to provisional data, different strains are circulating and causing disease. Two separate strains have been identified since the last week in December. All age groups have been affected.
The 11 cases is more than double the five cases of meningococcal meningitis reported during the same period last year. In 2018 a total of 89 meningococcal cases were reported, compared to 76 the previous year.
The HPSC has stressed that none of the patients with meningococcal disease had contact or links with each other. The spread of meningococcal meningitis from person to person is very unusual, especially outside of close household contact.
HPSC public health medicine specialist Dr Suzanne Cotter said: “Although meningococcal disease incidence generally increases in the winter months, the recent increase is cause for concern.
“The HSE wishes to alert the public to the signs and symptoms of this disease so that immediate medical attention can be sought if someone has symptoms that could be caused by this bug.
“If anyone has any concerns about meningitis they should ring their GP in the first instance. Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together and symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all.”
Early symptoms of meningitis can include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps, cold hands and feet, and a rash.
However, health experts have urged people not to wait for a rash to appear before seeking medical help for the condition.