Fourth person dies of meningitis

Health officials today revealed there has been a FOURTH Ipswich death in the meningitis scare which gripped the town in December and January.

IPSWICH: Health officials today revealed there has been a FOURTH Ipswich death in the meningitis scare which gripped the town in December and January.

Three of the suspected victims were children but now it has emerged that an adult from Ipswich died from the disease while on holiday.

And in a development which has baffled one set of parents, doctors have said they cannot pinpoint meningitis as the cause of their tragedy.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) today said the latest case was not connected with earlier deaths and was a different strain of the disease. The victim fell ill while on holiday earlier this month.


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The Evening Star previously reported how youngsters Ellie Parsons and Rhianna Warner were struck down by meningitis within the space of three weeks over the New Year period.

A third child, Kyron Vince, who was a playmate of Rhianna, died during the same period. However, medics claim the youngster died as a result of other complications.

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The HPA has received laboratory results from tests for meningitis, which they claim confirm Ellie and Rhianna tested positive for group B meningococcal disease. Both Ellie and Rhianna had a common strain of the bacteria, which could not be vaccinated against, and there was no link between their cases.

Kyron's test results proved to be negative, despite the fact that he had been in regular contact with Rhianna who died just hours before him. Kyron, who had other medical complications, died at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Vicky Holland, Kyron's distraught mother, said: “It makes it worse that they are saying he did not die from meningitis.

“They are saying it was natural causes but we cannot believe that. Now we do not know why he died.”

Both Rhianna and Ellie died at Ipswich Hospital. The hospital is continuing to investigate the cases, which are being treated as “serious untoward incidents”.

Peter Bradley, director of public health at NHS Suffolk, said: “We would normally expect to see one death (from meningitis) a year. “Within a couple of weeks, we saw four deaths from meningitis disease. Having completed investigation work, we haven't found any concern with the clinical management.”

There will not be an inquest into the death of the adult. A date has not yet been set for the inquests into the death of the children.

Those seeking advice on meningitis symptoms should call their GP, phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or call the Meningitis Trust which has a 24-hour nurse-led helpline on 0800 0281828.

Do you know of anyone who has been suspected of having meningitis over the last few weeks? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The deaths of toddlers Ellie Parsons, Rhianna Warner and Kyron Vince over the Christmas and New Year period sent a shockwave through Ipswich.

The youngsters all lived in the east of the town and died within three weeks of each other.

Despite the geographical closeness of their deaths and the fact that Rhianna and Kyron were close friends, health chiefs denied that their deaths were linked.

Ellie, of Felixstowe Road, died on December 14. The 11-month-old was taken to Ipswich Hospital by parents Darren Parsons and Kirsty Ludlow.

After being told she was well enough to go home her condition deteriorated and could not be revived.

Rhianna, of Damselfly Road, was just two-and-a half when she passed away on New Year's Eve.

She was taken to Ipswich Hospital after developing a high temperature and appearing to be constipated.

Her parents Danielle Watchman and Ben Warner criticised a decision by staff not to carry out a blood test which they felt would have revealed her true condition.

Rhianna's friend Kyron, who lived with parents Vicky Holland and Mark Vince in Hawke Road, lost his battle for life at Addenbrooke's Hospital on January 1. Kyron was taken to the Cambridge hospital after becoming ill early on New Year's Eve.

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