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Tuesday, 5 January, 1999, 18:01 GMT
Killer disease claims more victims
Meningicoccal meningitis
The characteristic blotches of the bacterial form of the disease
Meningitis has claimed the lives of two children and a woman in Wigan.

A five-month-old baby and a 42-year-old woman have also died of the brain disease in south Wales.

In Wigan, two children of pre-school age died of meningococcal meningitis over the Christmas weekend. A third child was still being treated for the condition.

A 29-year-old woman, also from Wigan, died the following weekend.

The parents of three-year-old Jack Williamson, one of those who died, warned other parents to be alert for signs of meningitis.

Brian Williamson said that although his son had seemed pale and listless and did not want to be touched, he had ruled out meningitis because initially there was no sign of the tell tale rash associated with the disease.

It was only after their son began to be sick, and his parents changed the sheets that they noticed rash-like bruises that quickly spread across his body.

Jack was transferred to Pendlebury Children's Hospital, but died early the next morning.

Mr Williamson said: "It is imperative that parents look for the other symtoms."

Dr Gideon Smith, a consultant in public health medicine and communicable disease control at Wigan and Bolton Health Authority, said: "Three cases in the same area is quite exceptional.

"But there are no close links between the cases. It is not likely that the general public is at increased risk.

Tragedy in Wales

In south Wales, a baby boy was one of five infants in the Dinas Powys area to be struck down by the meningococcal strain of the disease.

He was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales over the Christmas weekend and died later.

The other victims include a 12-month-old girl who was also admitted to the university hospital where she is now said to be making good progress.

Bro Taf Health Authority say the other three children were all of pre- school age - the oldest being a four-year-old.

Close friends and family of the victims are being treated with antibiotics.

A 42-year-old woman from the Taff Ely area of south Wales has also died of the disease.

The woman was one of five cases treated over the Christmas period at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr and East Glamorgan Hospital in Church Village.

She died of the dangerous pneumococcal strain of the disease on December 28.

Doctors said there had been further cases of the disease in the South Glamorgan area.

Scottish outbreak

Meanwhile, a two-year-old girl is in a critical condition in hospital with a case of suspected meningococcal meningitis.

The girl, who has not been named but is from East Fife, was admitted to Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children on Monday.

She had been admitted to The Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy earlier in the day.

A total of 25 family members and other people in close contact with the toddler have been given antibiotics.

Mmeningococcal meningitis is a potentially fatal brain disease that particularly affects under-fives and teenagers.

Symptoms of the disease can include severe headaches, fever, drowsiness, stiff neck, vomiting, confusion and a fear of light. A purple rash may also appear.

Three teenagers have died in the last week following two outbreaks of the disease in South Yorkshire and Tyneside. A third teenager is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital in Rotherham.

See also:

09 Mar 99 | Medical notes
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