HSE alerts parents and the general public to pay attention to three meningitis deaths in Ireland in recent weeks.
Parents are advised to check that their children have been vaccinated against the disease since it poses a serious risk to children and adolescents.
Eleven cases have been reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC) since the last week of December 2018.
Three of the patients diagnosed with meningococcal disease died directly due to infection.
The 11 cases reported in the last week of 2018 and in the first week of 2019 compare to five cases in the same period last year.
Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain and / or spinal cord. There are two types of meningitis; bacterial and viral.
Germs that cause bacterial meningitis can also cause sepsis.
Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than the viral strain.
The disease occurs most often in young children and adolescents, and HSE has advised parents to be aware of the symptoms.
Symptoms of meningitis include:
Dr. Suzanne Cotter, Public Health Medicine Specialist for HPSC, said, "While the incidence of meningococcal disease usually increases in the winter months, the recent increase is of concern and the HSE wishes to alert the public to the signs and symptoms. symptoms of this disease. that immediate medical attention can be sought if someone has symptoms that may be caused by this bug.
"If anyone has any concerns about meningitis, you should call your doctor in the first instance.
"Meningitis and septicemia usually happen together and symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all.
"Early symptoms may include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, stomach cramps, fever with cold hands and feet and rash, but do not wait for the rash to appear. help immediately. "
Speaking in Morning Ireland on the RTE, Dr. Cotter said: "With this particular type of meningitis, it is caused by a bacterium called meningococcal and is more common in the winter. Many of us carry it in our nasopharynx and we have no problem with that. .
"For a minority of people, it invades the system and can present itself as meningitis and other symptoms.
"It is passed from person to person, however, usually people do not know they have it and do not know they have passed it on to anyone.
"People who get meningitis are not able to identify who they are, so it's relatively rare to have them, but at the same time we're seeing an increase in the numbers we would normally see for a two-week period.
"11 cases are above normal and for this reason we want to make the general public aware that meningitis is circulating, the symptoms may present themselves and should not be disregarded.
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"Sometimes it is the flu season or it can keep up with the flu season and we are now also entering the flu season and this may be another reason why it is increasing.flu can slow down the immune system of some people, the most susceptible. "
Dr. Cotter added that there was a decline in the uptake of meningitis vaccines compared to other vaccines.
"There was a drop, for reasons we do not quite understand. Maybe people thought the children got the vaccines or did not make the last visit, the 13-month visit."
She urged parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated after the outbreak.
The Doctor. Cotter said, "Now that meningococcal disease is on the rise, parents should review their children's vaccination records and make sure they get all of their vaccines."