Three people have tragically died from meningitis and septicaemia in Ireland

10 Jan 2019
Three people have tragically died from meningitis and septicaemia in Ireland

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.

"We're here to help anyone affected" - Diane McConnell, Regional Director, MRF

“MRF has been supporting people for the past 29 years and anyone with questions or concerns can call our free helpline on 1800 41 33 44 (Ireland) or 080 8800 3344 (UK) or email helpline@meningitis.org or visit meningitis.org. We’re here to help anyone affected. 

“Sadly we see more people affected by meningitis and septicaemia during winter, particularly around Christmas. This is thought to be due to the bacteria being able to invade the body more easily via the nose and throat at this time of year due to recent infection with flu virus, and because the bacteria can spread more rapidly when people spend longer periods indoors in close proximity.

“Meningococcal bacteria are transmitted from person to person by close contact with others such as coughing, sneezing, kissing etc, but usually we have to be in very close or regular contact with someone for the bacteria to pass between us. Even when this happens, most of us will not become ill because we have natural immunity.”

“We encourage everyone to take up the offer of the vaccines that are included in routine immunisation schedule to protect themselves and their families. No single vaccine protects against all types of meningococcal disease and vaccines against some forms of the disease are not routinely available so it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms.”

For more information visit: http://www.hpsc.ie/news/newsarchive/2019newsarchive/title-18713-en.html

The symptoms of meningitis
The symptoms of meningitis
Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours - know the symptoms.

The helpline hours are Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. If people call outside of these times wanting information or support, please leave your contact details and someone from the helpline team will get back to you.  

Media contact
Sam Williams - Media Relations Manager
Tel: 07875 498047
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