The Public Health Agency (PHA) is investigating a confirmed case of meningococcal infection and a further probable case of infection involving children who attend Our Lady and St Patrick primary school in Downpatrick.
The PHA is working with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) and the school to ensure all appropriate public health actions are taken.
Arrangements have been put in place for all children who attend the primary school to receive antibiotics on Monday 25 June and Tuesday 26 June to reduce the risk of further infection. All staff at the school are also being offered antibiotics. This action is being taken as a precautionary measure and is in line with standard national guidance.
Parents of children who attend Our Lady and St Patrick primary school have been contacted by the school. Staff from the Public Health Agency and the SEHSCT will be at the school on Monday to talk to parents when the antibiotics are being dispensed.
Letters and information leaflets about meningococcal infection will also be distributed to parents and staff at the school.
Dr Brian Smyth, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health Agency, said: “I would like to reassure the parents of the children who attend the school that the likelihood of further cases at the school is low but, in line with standard national advice, as there have been two cases recently at the school, we are providing antibiotics to pupils and staff to further reduce the risk of further infection. The risk to the wider community is extremely low.”
Dr Smyth continued: “It is important that people can recognise the signs and symptoms of meningococcal infection so that they can be alert and seek medical help immediately if they suspect someone of having the symptoms.”
Mr Hugh Kelly, Principal, Our Lady and St Patrick primary school, said: “The school is cooperating with the Public Health Agency and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to facilitate arrangements to provide antibiotics at the school. Parents have been advised today that staff from the PHA and SEHSCT will be available to speak to parents and staff at the school on Monday and to offer reassurance. I would encourage parents to take up this offer.”
Mr Kelly continued: “I am also pleased to report that both of the children are responding well to treatment.”
Healthcare staff in primary and hospital settings, both in and out of hours, have been advised.
Further information on meningococcal infection can be found on the Health Protection Agency website: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/MeningococcalDisease/GeneralInformation/meninMeningococcalfactsheet/ or http://www.meningitis.org/assets/x/52208
Contact PHA Communications on 02890 553663.
Notes to the editor
- 400 pupils attend Our Lady and St Patrick primary school together with approximately 50 staff.
- There are approximately 60-70 cases of meningococcal infection each year in NI.
- Due to patient confidentiality and the duty to respect an individual’s privacy, the Public Health Agency is not in position to release personal information.