The HSE has identified an increase in meningococcal disease (causes meningitis and septicaemia) among Travellers (children in particular) when compared to the general population in Ireland.
The HSE wants to inform Irish Traveller organisations and those agencies and staff working with Travellers so that
- All Travellers and health care providers are vigilant about the signs and symptoms of meningitis or septicaemia
- All Travellers seek urgent medical attention if these symptoms occur
What are meningitis and septicaemia?
Meningitis and septicaemia are severe diseases that can kill quickly. Urgent medical attention can save lives. Meningitis is the inflammation of the covering around the brain and spinal cord. Septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease. The most common symptoms are:
- Fever / vomiting
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Cold and clammy hands and feet/shivering
- Limb/joint/muscle pain (sometimes with pain/diarrhoea)
- Dislike of bright lights
- Very sleepy / vacant / difficult to wake
- Confused / delirious
- Rash (anywhere on the body)
HSE is currently working with the Traveller community via the links with the Traveller Primary Health Care Projects and Traveller organisations around the country. Additionally, if any Traveller becomes sick with meningococcal disease the families will be quickly contacted by Public Health to prevent further cases. Close contacts of the sick person are given antibiotics clear the bacteria from their throat and nose and decrease the bug from spreading to others. Additionally, vaccination may be recommended for some families if indicated (according to the type of the bacteria causing the disease).
All Traveller children and young adults should make sure that they have received all their vaccines according to the recommendations in the Irish vaccination programme. Check with your GP if you are unsure.
Please click here for more information
- HPSC fact sheets and leaflets located here: http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/VaccinePreventable/BacterialMeningitis/Factsheets/
- Meningitis Research Foundation: http://www.meningitis.org/symptoms