A HEALTH warning has been issued in the wake of an outbreak of Meningitis. Local doctors have called on parents to be on the look out for symptoms of the deadly disease.
In recent days the Public Health Agency (PHA) said it had been informed of two confirmed cases of meningococcal septicaemia in an unnamed school in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which takes in Fivemiletown, Clogher and other parts of Tyrone.
A spokesman for the PHA said, “Both families have received preventative medication (antibiotics) as have a number of children and staff at the school. This has been done as a precautionary measure and there is no risk to the wider public.”
Meningococcal septicaemia is an acute sudden onset infection of the bloodstream which can prove fatal.
Although it is possible for anyone to get meningitis, babies, young children and teenagers are at heightened risk.
Speaking to the Herald local doctor Ted Burke outlined symptoms of meningitis, these include; a rash that does not fade, fever, neck stiffness and irritable mood. “You don’t always get a rash but if you do stretch the skin with your thumb and forefinger to see if it goes away. Putting a cold glass on a child can make them jump and it can be difficult to tell if it has disappeared or not. Sometimes you get a rash in a funny place and it can be easily missed – check everywhere for a rash.”
Dr Burke also explained how to check for neck stiffness. “Place the baby or child in front of you and click your fingers to each side of their ears and then click above their heads and they will look straight into the lights which means they don’t have photophobia either.”
He added that vomiting was also a symptom. “If they start vomiting check their temperature. If you’re treating a child for a high temperature always spread lukewarm water on the face. The only way a child can lose a temperature is by the hot blood going out to their arms and the rest of their body. If you put cold water over them it closes down circulation of the arms.
“For meningitis, ensure that you seek medical attention straight away whether that be through your GP or through A&E,” he added.
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