Girl’s meningitis death after 16 hours on hospital trolley

Meningitis: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms

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Ireland’s leader is demanding an investigation to see whether the death of a girl from meningitis after spending up to 16 hours on a hospital trolley could have been prevented. Aoife Johnston was admitted to hospital last week suffering with the bacterial infection.

The 16-year-old was eventually prescribed antibiotics but her condition deteriorated beyond recovery and she died on Monday.

The Irish Daily Mirror reports that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he wants a swift inquiry and has contacted the Health and Safety Executive.

He wants the probe to determine if Aoife’s death was preventable adding her family has a right to expect a quick inquiry.

He added: “It’s just devastating for the family, particularly at this time of year, and I want to express my condolences to Aoife’s family and friends, and of course to anyone who knew her.”

Tributes have been left in an online book of condolences to the teenager, from Shannon, County Clare.

One poignant message, which was posted anonymously, read: “Rest In Peace beautiful angel. Fly high.”

Ms Johnston is survived by her heartbroken family, parents James and Carol, sisters Meagan and Kate, and her grandparents.

The Department of Public Health Mid-West said it was “investigating a single case of confirmed meningococcal disease in Clare”.

The spokesperson added: “We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.”

“Close contacts are being identified by Public Health Mid-West and are being contacted and offered treatment.”

It stressed that “the overall risk to the wider community is considered low”, but that meningitis “is a serious illness involving inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, and it can be caused by a variety of different germs, mainly bacteria and viruses”.

“Person-to-person spread of meningococcal disease is very unusual, especially with others who are not a household or physically close personal contact.”

“Bacterial meningitis is less common but usually more serious than viral meningitis and requires urgent treatment with antibiotics.”

They added: “Bacterial meningitis may be accompanied by septicaemia (blood poisoning). The bacteria live naturally in the nose and throat of normal healthy persons without causing illness.”

“The spread of the bacteria is caused by droplets from the nose and mouth.”

The Department said that the illness occurs “most frequently in young children and adolescents, usually as isolated cases”.

It advised: “Bacterial meningitis or septicaemia requires urgent antibiotic treatment.”

“While the risk to the wider community is considered low, we do want the general public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this disease.”

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Signs and symptoms may include severe headaches, fever, vomiting, drowsiness, discomfort form bright light, neck stiffness, rash.

“We advise that if anyone has concerns, they should contact their GP immediately and ensure that medical expertise is sought,” it said.

The Department said that Meningococcal B disease is “prevented by vaccination”.

“The MenB vaccine was introduced in Ireland for all children born on or after 1 October 2016 because children under one year are at the highest risk of meningococcal B disease.”

University Hospital Limerick says it will conduct an investigation into the girl’s death.

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