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Further suspected case of meningitis

* 28 January 2004 *

Further suspected case of meningitis

A new suspected case of meningococcal disease has been identified in a student at the University of Sussex.   A 20 year-old third-year student was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, last night (January 27).  She is stable and making a good recovery.

All the close contacts were immediately identified and have been given antibiotics. Initial results indicate that it is a bacterial (rather than a viral) form of meningitis.  Blood tests should confirm tomorrow (January 29) if it is meningococcal bacteria and which strain.

Local health protection and University teams are undertaking a thorough check to see if there are any direct links between the new case and that of the second-year student, who died at the weekend.  Meningococcal disease has already been ruled out for a suspected case that arose last week.

The need for wider antibiotic treatment of students or staff is being kept under review, in line with national guidance and led by local health protection teams.

Dr Angela Iversen, consultant in communicable disease control at the Health Protection Agency, said: "This now means that there are two cases involving university students:  a new suspected case, and the one case already confirmed.  The new case does not change the health advice that has already been issued to staff and students. They should still be alert to the symptoms of meningitis.  We continue to keep the need for further public health action under close review."

Further information reminding students of the need for vigilance has been distributed on campus and a helpline for staff, students and parents continues to operate.

* Notes for editors *

  1. It is highly unlikely that meningococcal disease was the cause of illness in the first reported suspected case, involving a first-year student admitted to hospital on January 19.  Blood tests for meningococcal disease in this case were negative.  That case is therefore no longer under consideration by the local health protection team. The student has recovered and is now out of hospital.
  2. The second-year student died at her family's local hospital in Carshalton, Surrey on January 24.  Blood tests (reported on Tuesday January 27) show that she had the group B strain of the meningococcal bacteria.

Press Office contacts: Rob Read or Jacqui Bealing, University of Sussex,
Tel. 01273 678888, mobile: 07799 644 942,

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