College sounds warning over meningitis

MENINGITIS ALERT ... at South Tyneside College.
MENINGITIS ALERT ... at South Tyneside College.

COLLEGE bosses have issued a health warning after two students were treated over a suspected meningitis scare.

One of the students at South Tyneside College in South Shields was given hospital treatment for suspected meningococcal meningitis, the most common type of the disease.

Tests were being carried out today to find out whether the other student’s symptoms indicate meningitis.

Bosses at the college in St George’s Avenue say they are working with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to make other students aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.

But they were criticised by parents who said they were not made aware of the scare.

Doctors say it is “unlikely” that the two students, who both fell ill within the past week, have got the virus.

Dr Tricia Cresswell, of the HPA, said: “It is very unlikely that either of these cases have meningococcal meningitis.

“It is not necessary for any students or staff to be given antibiotics as a result of these cases.

“It is important that people are able to recognise the signs and symptoms of meningitis and seek medical advice as soon as possible if they are concerned.”

A spokesman for the HPA added: “The first case has now recovered and all close family contacts have already been identified and offered antibiotic treatment as a precautionary measure.

“The second case does not appear to be linked to the first, and has a different pattern of illness.”

Lynn Wright, whose 19-year-old son is a student, accused the college of keeping parents in the dark.

She added: “I didn’t know until my son came home and told me about it.

“Some information was written on the college’s internal internet site, which students can access by entering a username and password.

“But a letter should have been sent to parents about something as serious as this.”

Tony Sheppard, health and safety manager at South Tyneside College, said: “We would urge staff and students not to worry. It is very unlikely that either of these cases have meningococcal meningitis.

“We are working closely with The Health Protection Agency to ensure that students and staff are kept informed of the situation and that all precautionary procedures are followed.”

“All staff and students were informed of the situation immediately, as a matter of precaution, and, following advice from the Health Protection Agency, a factsheet of information was made available.”

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