Helpline set up following death of girl from suspected meningitis

Two children under the age of 12 were hospitalised

Helpline set up following death of girl from suspected meningitis

This photo depicts the growth displayed by Gram-negative Psychrobacter immobilis bacteria. This organism has been isolated from patients with meningitis | Image: CDC

A free helpline has been set up by the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), following the death of a young girl.

The MRF said it was "saddened" to hear of her death from suspected meningitis.

A cousin of the girl from Navan, Co Meath, has also been hospitalised with suspected meningitis.

The foundation said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this extremely difficult time and we are here for them if they would like any support."

Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, and shares many of the symptoms of other more common everyday illnesses - such as the flu or even a hangover.

As a result, MRF said it is vital people are able to recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease, particularly the symptoms that are more unique to meningitis.

Source: Meningitis Research Foundation

Symptoms of meningitis include severe headaches, fever, vomiting, drowsiness, discomfort from bright light, and neck stiffness.

"Parents should be reassured that most cases of meningitis and septicaemia are isolated.

"The bacteria that can cause the disease cannot live longer than a few moments outside the human body, so they are not carried on things like clothes or toys.

"People usually need to be in close or prolonged contact for the bacteria to pass between them. Even when this happens, most people do not become ill because they have natural immunity."

The free helpline can be contacted on 1800-41-33-44, or visit the website www.meningitis.org.