There has been an increase in the number of cases of meningococcal disease reported in Ireland over the last number of weeks. Sadly, there have been a number of fatalities. Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by bacteria which can result in meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) or septicaemia (blood poisoning). It is most common in young children and teenagers but it can affect people of any age, including the elderly.
What are the Symptoms?
- Fever (sometimes with cold hands and feet)
- Joint or muscle pain
- Rapid breathing
- Severe Headaches
- Discomfort from bright light
- Neck stiffness
- Vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
- Non-blanching rash may appear which may be tiny red pin pricks that may develop to purple bruises. This rash does not fade under pressure.
It is important to note that not all symptoms may appear and that they may not appear in any particular order.
What to do
If you suspect you or someone you love may have meningococcal disease please contact your GP or GP out of hours service straight away. Don’t delay – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Parents should ensure that there children receive all their vaccinations. People aged over 65 and those with certain chronic illnesses should get the pneumococcal vaccine.
Please check with the HSE for further information here.
Image is reproduced courtesy of HSE.