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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Meningitis and Septicaemia

I wish to raise the recent clusters of meningitis and septicaemia in Limerick, Dublin and Galway, which are very concerning. We have had a number of deaths with cases appearing in young adults as opposed to children under the age of five, where these infections are usually found. Those with knowledge of meningitis know just how vital it is to catch it in the early stages before the infection spreads into the body. Dr. Kenneth Beatty is a public health specialist in the mid-west who says that we need to get the message out to people in their late teens, around when people start going to college, so that they know the early warning signs of meningitis and what to do when they see them. Warnings similar to those we are now seeing from the HSE were given back in 2019 as a result of a similar cluster. The articles published in our newspapers on this topic over the past week are extremely informative and I urge people to read them and to know the signs. These include a sudden high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light or sleepiness. All of these can point to meningitis, which can be fatal within days or sometimes within hours without prompt treatment with antibiotics. With something this serious, I am not sure we can leave it up to individuals to go out of their way to seek information. Is there any chance the HSE or the Department of Health could run an awareness campaign on this? Could posters be placed in universities and secondary schools or could some social media advertisements be run? Will the Minister for Health have a conversation with his Department or the HSE to this end? Any small steps we can take to raise awareness of the issue of meningitis and its early warning signs and symptoms would be justified. Could the Minister let us know what can be done in this area?

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