Meningitis fear as boy, 2, dies

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The Independent Online

A two-year-old boy died of suspected meningitis and three other boys are believed to be suffering from the disease at the same hospital, it was revealed yesterday.

The boy who died took ill at home in Huyton, Merseyside, on Thursday afternoon and the family doctor diagnosed a virus. His parents took him to Whiston Hospital that night when he developed red blotches on his stomach. He died at 1.30am on Friday morning. Two three-year-old boys were improving at the hospital yesterday and an 11-year-old boy has been transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool.

The name of the boy who died has not been released. His father said yesterday: "My message to other parents is, if you are not sure, get them straight to hospital."

A spokeswoman for Whiston Hospital said the Public Health Laboratories had been alerted and found no evidence of a connection between the cases.

The families and their contacts were being offered antibiotics. All GPs in Merseyside are on alert and leaflets detailing symptoms were being given out. Parents were advised that symptoms include fever, irritability, restlessness, vomiting, aversion to bright lights and a purplish rash.

t The National Meningitis Trust helpline can be contacted on 0345 538 118.