Child dies and another taken to hospital after meningitis outbreak at nursery

A child has died and another has been taken to hospital after an outbreak of meningitis at a nursery in Lancashire.

Three-year-old Hector Kirkham, from Lancaster, was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on March 27 after contracting meningococcal septicaemia, but died later that day.

Another child from the same nursery, Little Learners in Galgate, was taken to hospital with the disease but has since been discharged.

Public Health England (PHE) has written to parents of other children at the nursery to remind them of "the signs and symptoms of meningococcal infection," which can include fever, headaches, vomiting and cold hands and feet.

"Hector's symptoms of sickness and a temperature only presented 12 hours before we sadly lost the love of our lives," Hector's mother Charlotte and father Lee said in a statement.

In the statement, Hector's parents described him as a "gorgeous, cheeky, happy boy".

Hector was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on March 27 after contracting meningococcal septicaemia. Credit: PA

They said: "Hector was perfect in every way, our absolute world, our sunshine, our very best friend."

They added: "We urge all parents to be vigilant and any signs or symptoms that point towards meningitis being a possibility please please seek urgent medical advice, don't delay."

PHE said it was working closely with the nursery and all children and staff had been offered antibiotics.

Grainne Nixon, health protection nurse consultant for Public Health England North West, said: "Although meningococcal disease is uncommon, people should be aware of the symptoms that can include a fever, headache, rapid breathing, drowsiness, shivering, vomiting and cold hands and feet.

"It can also cause a characteristic rash which does not fade when pressed against a glass. Also, some people may experience diarrhoea and vomiting.

"Early recognition of meningitis and septicaemia symptoms can greatly improve the outcome of the disease and so anyone who is concerned about any of these symptoms, at any time, should seek medical advice immediately or call NHS 111."]

For more information about meningitis and its symptoms visit the NHS website.

The bite of a tick can transmit meningoencephalitis, which is meningitis caused by viruses. Credit: PA

Meningitis factfile:

  • Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes, known as meninges, which surround the brain and spinal cord

  • It is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection

  • Viral meningitis is the least serious, but most common, type of the disease and will usually get better on its own

  • Bacterial meningitis is more rare and requires urgent medical treatment

  • The NHS estimates one in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal

  • Meningococcal disease, a term used to describe meningitis and septicaemia, is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, according to charity Meningitis Now

  • The NHS says meningitis can be spread through sneezing, coughing, kissing or sharing utensils such as cutlery. It can also be spread by a parasitic tick.

  • It can affect anyone but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults