Fears of meningitis outbreak in North West

2012-05-30 17:42

Johannesburg - A possible outbreak of meningitis in the North West is being investigated, the provincial health department said on Wednesday.

"Outbreak response teams had been sent to Majakaneng village, near Brits, following a confirmed meningitis death at a local school," spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said in a statement.

He said two more children with suspected meningitis died in the last month in the village.

"Interviews conducted by the response teams indicated the deceased children showed signs and symptoms of meningitis."

This could not be confirmed because the children died before visiting a health facility, he said.

Lekgethwane said meningitis was a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

"The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord."

He said meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria, viruses and fungal infections.

The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differed, depending on the cause.

"Symptoms can appear in any order, but the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, vomiting and headache, and feeling unwell - just like many mild illnesses," said Lekgethwane.