Know the signs: HSE issues meningitis warning

By Mary Dennehy

THE HSE is advising vigilance regarding meningococcal meningitis/septicaemia as there has been a noted increase in the disease in the last two weeks.

In an advisory alert issued on Wednesday, the HSE said that 11 cases have been notified to the Health Surveillance Centre (HPSC) since the last week in December.

facebook Linked Image HSEfin The HSE is advising the public to be vigilant regarding meningococcal meningitis/septicaemia (image: HSE) 

Three patients diagnosed with meningococcal disease have sadly passed away, with all three deaths directly due to the infection.

According to Dr Suzanne Cotter, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre: “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.”

doctor

Members of the public encouraged to contact their GP in the first instance if they have concerns

Dr Cotter added: “Early symptoms can include; fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps, fever with cold hands and feet and a rash, but do not wait for the rash to appear.

“If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.

“Parents of children should also check that they are up-to-date regarding their childhood meningococcal vaccinations."

Know the signs and symptoms 

Following investigation none of the patients with meningococcal disease have been identified as having had contact or links with each other.

All age groups have been affected, ranging from infants to elderly.

According to the HSE, the spread of meningococcal from person to person is very unusual, especially outside of close household contact. 

The HSE has advised that anyone concerned or showing symptoms should contact their GP in the first instance but ensure that medical expertise is sought.

Signs and symptoms may include:

Fever (sometimes with cold hands and feet)

Joint or muscle pain

Rapid breathing

Severe headaches

Drowsiness

Discomfort from bright light

Neck stiffness

Vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea

Non blanching rash may appear which may be tine red pin pricks that may develop to purple bruises. This rash does not fade under pressure.

For further information visit www.hse.ie.

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