No link between 2 meningitis cases

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

The two cases of meningitis reported at Gauteng schools in the past week are unrelated.

Last week, a 15-year-old pupil at Mondeor High School died of the disease. This week, a 7-year-old girl died from meningitis at Emaweni Primary School in Soweto.

Dr Lucille Bloomberg from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said yesterday: "The cases are not linked in any way. The latest case poses no danger, even to people who were close to the girl.

"The one at Mondeor was bacterial meningitis. The bacteria causing it is meningococcus and that is fatal. That is why all the people who were in contact with the girl were given antibiotics," Bloomberg said.

She said that preliminary results from the latest case showed that the disease was not contagious.

Bacterial meningitis is rare, but can be fatal if not treated immediately. Viral meningitis is relatively common and far less serious. It often remains undiagnosed because its symptoms can be similar to flu.

Meningitis symptoms include a severe headache, fever, vomiting, irritability, reduced consciousness and body rash. It is spread through fluid from the mouth, throat or nose of someone who has the illness.

To prevent meningitis, avoid contact with a patient, but if there was contact, wash your hands.

Bloomberg said that 400 cases of meningitis are reported yearly in this country.

"They mostly occur between June and October. During other times, we get sporadic outbreaks. The most important thing is to treat it early," she said.