The Department of Public Health Mid West said on Wednesday that it was identifying close contacts of a person who had died from meningitis in the mid-west region.
The deceased, who was named locally as Aoife Johnston (16) from Cronan Lawn, Shannon, Co Clare, was struck by the illness last weekend and died at University Hospital Limerick on Monday.
Ms Johnston “passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family”, an obituary notice read.
Tributes to Ms Johnston were left in an online book of condolences, including a poignant refrain which read: “Rest In Peace beautiful angel. Fly high.”
Ms Johnston who is survived by her “heartbroken family, parents James and Carol, sisters Meagan and Kate, grandparents” was reposed at McMahon’s Funeral Home Shannon (6pm-7.30pm) Wednesday, followed by removal to St John and Paul’s Church, Shannon.
Funeral mass takes place at 11am on Thursday, followed by burial in Illaunmanagh Cemetery.
The Department of Public Health Mid-West said it was “investigating a single case of confirmed meningococcal disease in Clare”.
It was notified of the case “in recent days, concerning a teenager who sadly died”.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” the department said.
“Close contacts are being identified by Public Health Mid-West and are being contacted and offered treatment.”
It stressed that “the overall risk to the wider community is considered low”, but that meningitis “is a serious illness involving inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, and it can be caused by a variety of different germs, mainly bacteria and viruses”.
“Person-to-person spread of meningococcal disease is very unusual, especially with others who are not a household or physically close personal contact.
“Bacterial meningitis is less common but usually more serious than viral meningitis and requires urgent treatment with antibiotics.
“Bacterial meningitis may be accompanied by septicaemia (blood poisoning). The bacteria live naturally in the nose and throat of normal healthy persons without causing illness.
“The spread of the bacteria is caused by droplets from the nose and mouth.”
The Department said that the illness occurs “most frequently in young children and adolescents, usually as isolated cases”.
It advised: “Bacterial meningitis or septicaemia requires urgent antibiotic treatment.”
“While the risk to the wider community is considered low, we do want the general public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this disease.”
Signs and symptoms may include severe headaches, fever, vomiting, drowsiness, discomfort form bright light, neck stiffness, rash.
“We advise that if anyone has concerns, they should contact their GP immediately and ensure that medical expertise is sought,” it said.
The Department said that Meningococcal B disease is “prevented by vaccination”.
“The MenB vaccine was introduced in Ireland for all children born on or after 1 October 2016 because children under one year are at the highest risk of meningococcal B disease.”
“All children are offered MenB vaccine at 2 and 4 months of age with a booster dose of MenB vaccine given at 12 months.”
“First year students in secondary school are offered Men ACWY vaccine.”
More information can be found on the HSE website.