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Shiselweni, Swaziland: Three children die of mystery disease - possible meningitis

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  • Shiselweni, Swaziland: Three children die of mystery disease - possible meningitis

    Mystery disease outbreak, 3 dead
    20 July, 2011 11:33:00 Stories by Winile Masinga
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    THREE pupils from different schools in the Shiselweni region died mysteriously, forcing parents to suspect an outbreak of the deadly meningitis disease.
    However, the ministry of health has allayed fears of the suspected outbreak in Hlatikulu and surrounding areas.
    The deaths were reported in the past two weeks and the children showed similar symptoms that could be linked to the disease.
    Such include headaches, fever and vomiting.
    Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Steven Shongwe advised the public not to panic as the ministry has not yet detected the disease.
    He said the ministry would inform the nation if there was any outbreak. He said for now, there has been no detection of meningitis outbreak through their system which he said was very up-to-date and, therefore, people should not panic.
    Teachers in the schools where the children went suspected meningitis. The deceased pupils are all male. Principal of Hlatikulu Central Primary school who preferred to be referred to as Mr. Dlamini, said as a lay person in health issues, he cannot say what caused the death of the boy from his school. He was quick to point out though that the boy was suffering from a headache.
    He said another pupil of Christ the King died last week and he showed similar symptoms but he could not say exactly what it was
    Dr Shongwe said for now there were only suspicions of cholera outbreak but would inform the nation once that was confirmed.
    Symptoms of meningitis
    It's easy to mistake the early signs and symptoms of meningitis for the flu (influenza). Meningitis signs and symptoms may develop over several hours or over one or two days and, in anyone over the age of two, typically include:
    n High fever
    n Severe headache that isn't easily confused with other types of headache
    n Stiff neck
    n Vomiting or nausea with headache
    n Confusion or difficulty concentrating in the very young, this may appear as inability to maintain eye contact
    n Seizures
    n Sleepiness or difficulty waking up
    n Sensitivity to light
    n Lack of interest in drinking and eating
    n Skin rash in some cases, such as in viral or meningococcal meningitis
    Signs in babies
    Newborns and infants may not have the classic signs and symptoms of headache and stiff neck. Instead, signs of meningitis in this age group may include:
    n High fever
    n Constant crying
    n Excessive sleepiness or irritability
    n Inactivity or sluggishness
    n Poor feeding
    n A bulge in the soft spot on top of a baby's head (fontanel)
    n Stiffness in a baby's body and neck
    n Seizures
    Infants with meningitis may be difficult to comfort, and may even cry harder when picked up