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Saturday, February 13, 1999 Published at 12:07 GMT


Vigilance warning over meningitis

Parents are urged to continue to watch for symptoms

Information centres are offering advice to parents in south Wales worried about meningitis during this week's half-term holiday.

Valerie Jones: "Worried parents aren't relaxing"
People with children in the Pontypridd area are being warned to continue to watch for the symptoms of the disease during the week-long break.

But many are still demanding a widespread immunisation programme following the deaths of three children in the area.

[ image:  ]
As the holiday began, 17-year-old sixth form pupil Dewi Morgan remained "critically ill" in intensive care at East Glamorgan Hospital with meningococcal septicaemia.

A classmate at Y Pant Comprehensive at Talbot Green, Mid Glamorgan was described as "stable" and specialists believe he may not actually have meningitis.

Head teacher Ann Clements said: "We fully share parents' concern about the situation but the education department and health authority has acted very swiftly".

No contact

Three people, including a 15-year old boy, have died of meningitis in Pontypridd, which is 10 miles from Talbot Green. Eight other pupils at three schools are recovering.

[ image: Pupils at four schools have been immunised]
Pupils at four schools have been immunised
Pupils at three schools in Pontypridd were immunised earlier this week following the deaths. Health officials have now vaccinated a total of nearly 3,000 people against the infection.

Neither of the sixth-formers in the latest cases has had close contact with affected pupils at the Coedylan upper and lower schools and Trerobart primary school.

A thousand Y Pant pupils were immunised on Friday but older pupils and parents think more could be done elsewhere.

Sixth-former Gemma Douglas, 18, said: "Other schools should get the same protection because they have the same risk from meningitis at the moment."

Mass programme refused

But Bro Taf Health Authority team leader Dr Steve Monaghan claimed mass inoculations would lower the resistance of the whole community.

"We stand by the action we have taken so far - but we are from complacent," he insisted.

Doctors say the cost of vaccinating one person is the same as a Viagra pill.

Welsh Office health minister Jon Owen Jones has re-assured parents that everything possible was being done.

"I am convinced that the medical authorities have acted very promptly," he said.

"I have nothing but praise for their dedication and efforts."

Doctors are also investigating another suspected case of meningococcal meningitis after a 25-year-old man from Pontypridd was admitted to hospital.

But health officials believe it is an isolated case and not linked to others in the town.

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