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Meningitis alert at high school

PUBLISHED: 05:35 10 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

HUNDREDS of pupils at an East Anglian school have been given antibiotics to combat meningitis following one confirmed and one suspected case of the disease within a week.

HUNDREDS of pupils at an East Anglian school have been given antibiotics to combat meningitis following one confirmed and one suspected case of the disease within a week.

The two cases involve youngsters at Diss High School on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, and more than 1,000 students, staff and visitors were called in on Saturday to be given medication.

It is understood that close friends of the affected students were given inoculations and everyone else received antibiotics in tablet form.

Only a few of the 1,200 pupils at Diss High School live on the Suffolk side of the county border.

Pupils, staff and people who had visited the school during the past week were invited in a letter sent on Friday to turn up the next day for preventative treatment.

Dr John Bailey, consultant in communicable disease control for the Norfolk NHS Health Protection Unit, said officials had acted swiftly but the antibiotics were a "routine" precaution.

No details have been given of the identity or sex of the pupils affected by the disease scare but it is understood the confirmed case was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital early last week and the suspected case was admitted within the last few days.

Headteacher, Stuart Ballantyne, said the first pupils in the queue for antibiotics had arrived at the school at 8.20 am on Saturday and by pm about 1,100 youngsters and adults had been seen.

"There were quite a lot of staff as well. We also had cleaners and people who had visited the school during the week and the queue at one pointed stretched back one hundred metres.

"Everyone was incredibly patient and the health protection unit were most impressive, very caring," he said.

Mr Ballantyne said the school had been "overwhelmed" by the number of people who had taken the situation seriously and had turned up.

"I couldn't have wished for it to go better. There was no panic. People felt better that something was being done," he added.

The school is due to open as usual today.


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