'Deal with meningitis outbreak urgently'

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The Congress of the People has demanded that the government set up an emergency medical station to cope with a "meningitis outbreak" similar to the hospital it set up last year to deal with the cholera outbreak in Musina, Limpopo.

Cope spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said "the meningitis problem has now reached crisis proportions and requires immediate action".

Three pupils have died of meningitis in the south of Johannesburg in the past three weeks.

Ngwema said parents were keeping their children away from school for fear of meningitis.

But Health Minister Barbara Hogan said yesterday "at this stage we do not believe that we have a meningitis outbreak, though meningitis outbreaks are inevitable from time to time".

Hogan said one of the children who died last week was, "according to medical reports, not a confirmed meningitis case".

"This might have been a case of very severe botulism" she said.

Shalida de Villiers from Willow Crescent Secondary School in Eldorado Park, a seven-year-old boy from Emaweni Primary School in Soweto and a 15-year-old Grade 9 pupil at Mondeor High School, all died of suspected meningitis in the past three weeks.