Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is reminding people in Ireland to be alert to the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, after the Health Service Executive (HSE) has reported an increase in meningococcal disease (the leading cause of meningitis in Ireland) in recent weeks.
The HSE states that there have been 11 cases reported since week 52 of 2018. Sadly three of the people diagnosed with meningococcal disease have died.
This compares to five cases for the same time period last year. In 2018, a total of 89 meningococcal cases were reported compared to 76 in 2017.
The recent cases are said to have occurred in Dublin and other regions of the country, and affected all age groups, ranging from infants to elderly.
There are several different types of meningococcal bacteria that cause meningitis and septicaemia. The most common types causing disease in Ireland are meningococcal B, C, W and Y - commonly referred to as MenB, MenC, MenW and MenY.
In Ireland, meningococcal vaccines are routinely available for high risk groups that protect against two of the most common types – MenB and MenC:
- MenB vaccine is offered for babies at 2, 4 and 12 months (children born on or after 1 Oct 2016 are eligible)
- MenC is offered at 6 months with a booster at 13 months and for those aged between 12-13 years (anyone up to age 23 who hasn’t had it is also eligible)
The recent disease and deaths in Ireland have not been caused by a single type of meningococcal bacteria, but have been caused by multiple types.
Diane McConnell, Regional Director at MRF said, “We are saddened to learn that a number of people have been affected by meningitis and septicaemia in recent weeks. Our thoughts and condolences go out to these individuals and their family and friends.