Intended for healthcare professionals


Meningitis in Wales

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 20 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:544
  1. Norman Begg, professor,
  2. Simon Gregor, press officer
  1. Public Health Laboratory Service, London

    Meningococcal infection is a frightening disease for doctors and parents alike. Symptoms can evolve rapidly, and, despite improvements in antibiotic treatment and intensive care, about 10% of patients still die, sometimes within hours of onset. Over 200 people die from acute meningococcal infection in Britain every year; it is now the single most common infectious cause of death in children.

    These are some of the factors that make meningococcal infection such a high profile issue with the media. In general, public health risks that seem to strike suddenly and unpredictably are triggers for intense media interest, particularly when the rapid progression of the infection and the need for early diagnosis and treatment increase the sense of vulnerability. It is therefore not surprising that the recent outbreak in Pontypridd, south Wales, captured the media's attention. The story was further fuelled by a political dimension, with the announcement last week in …

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