Four pupils struck with meningitis

PUBLISHED: 09:50 29 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:56 03 March 2010

IPSWICH Hospital has today confirmed that all four Royal Hospital School pupils who were treated for meningitis last week, had the least serious form of the brain disease.

IPSWICH Hospital has today confirmed that all four Royal Hospital School pupils who were treated for meningitis last week, had the least serious form of the brain disease.

Later editions of yesterday's Evening Star told how three boys and a girl from the school at Holbrook had been struck down by the brain bug meningitis.

Three of the four cases were quickly diagnosed as viral meningitis, which is considered the least serious form of the brain bug.

A hospital test made doctors suspect the first case could be meningococcal Group B meningitis – a more dangerous, and potentially fatal – bacterial form of the disease.

But today Dr Mike Bamford, clinical director of paediatrics at the hospital, confirmed that all four had turned out to be viral meningitis.

He said: "One test suggested the patient may have had bacterial form of the disease, but that was later found not to be the case."

He added that pupils at the school had been given oral antibiotics on Friday as a precautionary measure, after bacterial meningitis was initially suspected.

Staff who came come into contact with the affected pupils, who have not been named, have also been given the anti-bug drugs.

All four have since been discharged to their homes and none are seriously ill.

The school's headteacher, Nicholas Ward said the first case was spotted early last week when a 14-year-old boy went to the school's health centre complaining of a headache.

Sister-in-charge, Anne Sledmere, quickly called the school's GP, and within an hour the boy was taken to hospital, where his condition was identified as viral meningitis.

He was sent home to rest after an overnight stay in hospital.

The next day a second boy showed similar symptoms and was admitted to hospital with viral meningitis and later sent home.

Another boy went through the same on Thursday, and a girl on Saturday.

After the test revealed the first victim could have been suffering from the more serious meningitis B, Mr Ward decided all parents should be informed and all sports fixtures cancelled.

He also wrote to schools in Stutton and Holbrook whose pupils occasionally use the RHS facilities, warning them to stay away.

He said: "Although the health authority said there was virtually no risk, we thought it could not be good to have lots of children coming on site.

"All four children are fine. They were all kept in hospital for one or two days, then sent home to recuperate."

There have been no more cases since the weekend, and the school's end of term Christmas concert in the chapel will still go ahead on Saturday after organisers were told the audience would not be at risk, because they would not be in close contact with pupils.


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