Meningitis outbreak kills three on French Riviera

An outbreak of a rare and deadly strain of Meningococcal meningitis in the south of France killed three people in two days over the weekend. Another teenager is in hospital. Local health officials have called the series of deaths “worrying.”

Meningitis outbreak kills three on French Riviera
Meningitis claimed three victims in two days in southern France. Photo: Jean-Sebastian Evrard/AFP

The toll levied by the deadly bacterial infection was heavy for one family in Nice.

The disease claimed the lives of two brothers, ages 20 and 30, as well as a brother in law in 48 hours this weekend.

A teenage boy was also in intensive care after being struck the by the illness, French daily Le Parisien reported. It wasn’t immediately clear if the boy was from the same family.

“We are not at the beginning of an epidemic, but the situation is worrying,” one unnamed source told French media. It is extremely rare that this strain of meningitis, although very dangerous, causes so many deaths at once.

Local health authorities told Le Parisien other family members who came into prolonged contact with the victims are currently undergoing an intensive, precautionary treatment against the disease.

The unnamed source said, however, said “the germ is rather delicate, and doesn’t survive long outside the body.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) meningococcal meningitis is a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounded the brain and spinal cord. It is most common in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The symptoms generally include a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting. Even when the disease is diagnosed early and treated is, five-ten percent of patients die, typically within 24 to 48 hours after symptoms begin.

Anyone showing potential symptoms of the disease is advised to seek medical help urgently.

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