Two cases of meningitis confirmed at NI primary school

Two cases of meningitis have been confirmed at a primary school in Northern Ireland .

In a statement, the Public Health Agency confirm two cases of meningococcal septicaemia in a school in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area .

A sick child

A sick child

The statement adds that both families have received antibiotics as have a number of children and staff at the school.

A spokesperson said: "This has been done as a precautionary measure and there is no risk to the wider public. Antibiotics are offered only to those people who have had close and prolonged personal contact with patient/s.

"It is important that everyone is aware of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease."

Meningococcal septicaemia is an acute (sudden onset) infection of the bloodstream and subsequent vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) with the bacteria Neisseria meningitides.

Early symptoms of the disease may include:

• sudden onset of high fever;

• a severe and worsening headache without any other obvious cause;

• severe neck stiffness;

• dislike of bright lights;

• very cold hands and feet;

• drowsiness that can deteriorate so someone is difficult to wake or may even be unconscious;

• a rash that does not fade when pressed with a glass (this is due to bleeding under the skin).

Babies with meningococcal disease tend to be irritable when picked up and have a high pitched cry, stiff body and jerking movements.

Should anyone develop any of these they should contact their GP or local A&E department immediately.