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11 symptoms and warning signs of meningitis to watch out for as five new cases confirmed in Ireland this week

11 symptoms and warning signs of meningitis to watch out for as five new cases confirmed in Ireland this week
Written by MAGASIR

IRISH health officials have reported five new cases of viral meningitis this week.

Ireland has seen a string of meningitis cases in recent months and a number of deaths related to the illness.

Meningitis can cause severe illness and death

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Meningitis can cause severe illness and deathCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Meningitis infection is most serious in children and young adults

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Meningitis infection is most serious in children and young adultsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The latest meningitis figures were revealed in the HPSC’s infectious disease report for the week of December 11 to December 17.

In that week, the HPSC recorded five cases of confirmed viral meningitis and zero cases of bacterial meningitis.

Two of these cases were in children aged under 4-years-Old, two were in adults aged between 35 and 44 and one was in an adult aged over 65.

All five of the cases were in males.

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Additionally, there were two cases of meningococcal disease in the same week. One was in a child aged under 4-years-old and one was in a child aged between ten and 14.

In October, the HSE was investigating four cases of meningococcal meningitis/septicaemia reported in the last week of September.

A total of 3 cases were confirmed and one was possible. Three of the cases were reported to be caused by serogroup B. Sadly, two of the people affected died.

What is meningitis?

It is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. There are two main types of meningitis: bacterial and viral.

The germs that cause bacterial meningitis can also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning). Like meningitis, septicaemia is a serious illness that can be life-threatening.

Bacterial meningitis is more severe. It can be life threatening and it requires medical attention quickly.

Anyone can get meningitis; however, babies, young children and teenagers are mainly affected.

What are the symptoms?

  • A high temperature. A temperature of 38C or higher or cold hands and feet and is shivering.
  • Dislikes bright lights. Squints or covers their eyes when exposed to light.
  • Headache and neck stiffness.
  • Pain or body stiffness. This includes stomach, joint or muscle pain, jerking movements or a floppy lifeless body.
  • Vomiting or difficult eating and diarrhea
  • Confusion, tiredness or irritability.
  • Pale or bluish skin colour.
  • Unusual breathing.
  • A tense or bulging soft spot on the head – in children and babies.
  • Seizures.
  • Rash that doesn’t fade when you press a glass tumbler against it.

How bacterial meningitis spreads

Bacterial meningitis is spread by prolonged close contact between people. The germ can be coughed out and breathed in. It can also be transferred in saliva, for example during intimate kissing.

The infection is usually spread by people who are not sick themselves. They carry the germs at the back of their nose or throat.

VACCINATION

Meningococcal B disease is prevented by vaccination.

The MenB vaccine was introduced in Ireland for all children born on or after 1 October 2016 because children under one year are at the highest risk of meningococcal B disease.

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All children are offered MenB vaccine at 2 and 4 months of age with a booster dose of MenB vaccine given at 12 months.

The HSE advises that if anyone has any concerns they should contact their GP in the first instance but ensure that medical expertise is sought quickly.

About the author

MAGASIR

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