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Welshpool Meningitis Scare

Created on 10/08/2010 @ 10:18


Anxious parents faced a worrying start to their summer holidays after a Welshpool High School pupil was diagnosed with suspected meningitis shortly before the end of term.
Thankfully, mywelshpool has since learned that the youngster is on the road to a full recovery and the quick action of the High School working in tandem with Public Health Wales (PHW) ensured the case was isolated.
“We received a letter from the school on July 12th informing us that there was a suspected case and advising us on the signs to look out for in our children,” said one parent. “Thankfully the child is said to be well and as far as we are aware, there have not been any other cases.”Meningitis bacteria
In the letter, parents were warned of the symptoms of meningitis by a consultant from PHW’s communicable diseases department. It also reassured parents that all close contacts to the child had been identified but parents were still asked to be alert to prevent any spread of the bacteria.
The PHW web site warns that: ‘Anyone can get meningitis. The meningococcal bacteria are very common and live naturally in the back of the nose and throat, or the upper respiratory tract. People of any age can carry the bacteria for a prolonged time without becoming ill and at any one time, around 10 to 25 per cent of the population carry the bacteria. Only rarely do the bacteria overcome the body’s defences and cause meningitis.’
Vaccines are available against certain types of bacterial meningitis and are given as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme.
In 2007, 52 cases of meningitis were reported in Wales.
Symptoms in adults and older children may include:
  • a constant generalised headache,
  • confusion,
  • a high temperature, although hands and feet may be cold,
  • drowsiness,
  • vomiting,
  • stomach pain, sometimes with diarrhoea,
  • rapid breathing,
  • neck stiffness - moving the chin to the chest will be painful at the back of the neck,
  • a rash of red or purple spots or bruises (or darker than normal, in dark skins) that does not fade when you press a glass tumbler or finger against it – this may not be present in the early stages,
  • joint or muscle pain, and
  • sensitivity to bright lights, daylight or even the television.
Symptoms in babies and infants may include:
  • high temperature, fever (possibly with cold hands and feet), 
  • vomiting and refusing feeds, 
  • high pitched moaning or whimpering cry, 
  • blank staring expression, 
  • pale itchy complexion, 
  • floppiness, 
  • dislike of being handled, 
  • fretful, 
  • neck retraction with arching of back, 
  • convulsions, 
  • lethargic and difficult to wake, and

tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot on head).

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