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Toddler dies after contracting meningitis at nursery

The parents of a toddler who died after contracting meningitis B at a nursery have paid tribute to him.

Hector Kirkham, three, who went to Little Learners nursery in Galgate, Lancaster. passed away last week, and was hailed as a ‘gorgeous, cheeky happy boy.’ 

Another child who was taken to hospital has now been discharged. 

All staff at the nursery have been offered antibiotics as a precaution, Public Health England said.

The nursery says on its website that it provides ‘outstanding childcare through a nurturing and stimulating environment that delivers high quality education and learning’.

Little Learners, for children from birth to age five, was awarded an Ofsted Outstanding status in February 2013. 

Little Learners nursery in Galgate, Lancaster, where one child has died after contracting Meningitis B

A second child at the nursery was taken to hospital with the disease, but has since been discharged. 

A Public Health England spokesman said: ‘Public Health England (PHE) is working closely with Little Learners (Galgate) Nursery in Lancaster following the sad death of a child from meningococcal disease group B.

‘Our deepest sympathies are with the family concerned.’

What is Meningitis B?

Meningococcal group B bacteria is a serious cause of life-threatening infections, including meningitis and blood poisoning, worldwide and the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.

There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, and group B (MenB) is responsible for about 90% of meningococcal infections in the UK.

Meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal group B bacteria can affect people of any age, but is most common in babies and young children.

In the past 20 years, between 500 and 1,700 people every year, mainly babies and young children, have suffered from MenB disease, with around 1 in 10 dying from the infection. 

Many of those who survive suffer permanent disability, such as amputation, brain damage and epilepsy. 

Grainne Nixon, Health Protection Nurse Consultant for Public Health England North West, said: ‘We understand that there will be concern among parents and staff at the nursery, and we’d like to assure parents that the risk of another case arising in the nursery is very low.

‘Meningococcal disease does not spread very easily.

‘As a precaution, all children and staff at the nursery have been offered antibiotics to reduce the chance of them carrying the bacteria which causes the disease.’ 

The statement added: ‘PHE has also written to staff and parents of children at the nursery to provide information and remind them of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal infection, which can cause meningitis as well as septicaemia.

‘Children and staff who are well have been advised to attend nursery as normal.’

‘Although meningococcal disease is uncommon, people should be aware of the symptoms that can include a fever, headache, rapid breathing, drowsiness, shivering, vomiting and cold hands and feet.

‘It can also cause a characteristic rash which does not fade when pressed against a glass.

‘Also, some people may experience diarrhoea and vomiting.’

The nursery is currently unavailable for comment.