Football illness scare recedes

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A PROFESSIONAL footballer was recovering in hospital yesterday after tests confirmed he had viral meningitis - the less serious strain of the disease.

George Kulcsar of Queen's Park Rangers, a midfielder from Australia aged 32, was being kept in an isolation ward. Three other players at the First Division club who were under observation after showing symptoms of the illness were said to be in no danger. Karl Ready and Matthew Rose were suffering from another virus. Gavin Peacock was cleared earlier yesterday.

Viral meningitis is a relatively mild illness, whereas the meningococcal variety is a potentially fatal strain of bacterial meningitis, which is also contagious.

The test results were released by the west London club yesterday afternoon. Simon Crane, the club's chief executive, said he was "relieved" after being told the results. "George is recovering in hospital," Mr Crane said. "He is in an isolation ward and getting treatment for viral meningitis. He is a very fit guy and that is going to be very much to his advantage as he gets back on his feet."

Kulcsar is married with a young child. His family were being kept under observation as a precaution but had not shown any symptoms. The club would not say which hospital was treating him. The other players were not in hospital.

The health scare resulted in the decision by Queen's Park Rangers to postpone today's First Division match with Sheffield United after Football League chiefs gave their permission.

The club, which plays at Loftus Road in Shepherd's Bush, had also closed its training ground in Acton, west London. Officials at Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Health Authority issued a statement yesterday, saying that local people were not at any risk from the infection.