Meningitis alert spreads beyond Cardiff students

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The university meningitis scare spread yesterday from Wales to other parts of Britain. As doctors in Cardiff examined 24 students admitted to hospital for tests, new suspected cases of the killer infection emerged in Southampton, while two confirmed incidents were reported in York.

The deaths of Ann-Marie Connor, 19, a first-year law student from London, and Samantha Milroy, a first-year pharmacy student from Stockport, Greater Manchester, left tutors and fellow undergraduates at the University College of Wales, Cardiff, "devastated".

Yesterday, it was revealed that two male students at Southampton Institute have been admitted to hospital with suspected meningitis. One, aged 20, is said to be in a critical condition at South-ampton General Hospital. The other, a 22-year-old who lives in college accommodation, was admitted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital after he became ill while visiting relatives in the West Country.

The students were said to be on different courses and there was nothing to link them together or with the outbreak in Cardiff.

Health officials said two students at York University were confirmed as having meningitis. American exchange student, Stephanie Hazel, first showed symptoms of the illness two days ago. Her condition is now improving. Another exchange student, Heather Hobson, wasdischarged from hospital after becoming ill five weeks ago. Again, the cases are not thought to be connected. The students live in different blocks on the university's Heslington campus.

Health officials tackling the latest outbreak in Cardiff said yesterday that more than 1,000 students, university staff and parents had been inoculated against the disease. They were still trying to trace 30 or 40 students who shared the accommodation block with the five confirmed cases.

Yesterday, 32 people were admitted to the University of Wales Hospital. Eight were due to be discharged yesterday evening. None was regarded as having meningitis.

Dr Bill Smith, public health director of the Bro Taf Health Authority, stressed that no new cases of meningococcal infection had been confirmed.

In another part of the hospital, a male student, 20, who has the type C meningococcal strain of the disease which killed the two women, remained in intensive care. Two others continued to make good progress.

William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, told MPs that information about the epidemic would be available only when the results of medical tests were known. "I intend to await the report from the health authority on the outbreak before deciding whether to undertake any further inquiry," he said.