A SCHOOL has issued a letter reassuring parents after a pupil was diagnosed with suspected bacterial meningitis.

Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Westhoughton sent out the letter before the weekend on the advice of Public Health England.

Headteacher Martin Johnson said that he had been told by the body that staff and pupils were not at any greater risk of getting meningitis than the rest of the population.

He said: “I was contacted by Public Health England on Thursday who said that one of the children – I was not told who or in what year – was in hospital with suspected bacterial meningitis. Public Health England have told us that our staff and pupils are at no greater risk of getting the illness than the rest of the population.

“The letter reiterates the advice given by health professionals and anyone who is concerned should contact their GP or go straight to hospital.”

Mr Johnson said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the child.”

The letter states: “We have been advised by Public Health England that a child who attends this school has recently been reported as having meningococcal disease. This is an infection with a germ that causes meningitis or septicaemia (blood poisoning).

“I realise you may be concerned about this, but I have been reassured by Public Health England that when there is a single case of illness in a school, other children and staff at the school are at no greater risk of getting meningitis than the rest of the population and they do not need antibiotics or any vaccination, outside of those routinely given.

“The germ that causes meningococcal disease is often found in our throats. It causes no symptoms at all in most people, but a few people become ill when they pick up the germ.”

The letter adds that it was important that parents are always vigilant about the symptoms of meningitis or septicaemia. They include severe headache, neck stiffness, fever, vomiting, drowsiness or confusion, discomfort from bright light, limb joint or muscle pain and rash which does not go pale when pressed.

Dr Merav Kliner, consultant from the Greater Manchester Health Protection team, said: “Meningococcal infection is comparatively rare, but everyone should be aware of the symptoms to look out for and if anyone becomes ill with symptoms of meningitis you should get urgent medical help right away. There is no cause for alarm and it is safe for children and staff to continue to attend the school as normal.

“We do see an increase in cases of meningitis at this time of year, so it’s very important people are aware of the symptoms so they can act early and seek medical help.”

Meningococcal infection, which can cause meningitis — inflammation of the brain — or septicaemia, is more common in the winter. The onset of illness is often sudden and treatment should be sought immediately if it is suspected, said Public Health England.