Public Health England steps in to stop meningitis outbreak after tragic death of Portsmouth schoolgirl

Debbie and Ray Mead with Imogen and her brother Curtis on a family hoilday in France in July

Debbie and Ray Mead with Imogen and her brother Curtis on a family hoilday in France in July

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HEALTH officials have taken action to stop the potential spread of meningitis after an 11-year-old girl from Portsmouth died from the disease.

Popular St John’s Cathedral Catholic School pupil Imogen Mead was rushed into hospital with a temperature, but days later lost her life on July 31.

We understand that there will be concern in the community following this death. We have implemented national guidelines to reduce the spread of infection.

Dr Jill Morris, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health England South East

Now Public Health England has confirmed antibiotics have been given to people who had been in close contact with Imogen, a talented performer and baker, in the lead-up to her death.

But the government agency says there is no wider risk to the community, and those that had only spent a short amount of time with Imogen have not needed treatment.

Dr Jill Morris, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health England South East, said: ‘We are sad to hear about the death of the child and our thoughts are with the family and their friends.

‘We understand that there will be concern in the community following this death. We have implemented national guidelines to reduce the spread of infection.

‘The best advice still remains for everyone to be aware of and alert to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease such as vomiting, severe headache, unexplained fever, dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, a non-blanching rash, drowsiness, and altered levels of consciousness.

Anyone displaying these symptoms should contact their GP immediately or call NHS 111.’

PHE says it is investigating the case and that Imogen died of suspected meningococcal infection, an uncommon but serious disease which can cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

Tributes for the creative schoolgirl have poured in and friends have set up a fundraising campaign to support her heartbroken family.

Family friend Paul Caldwell has set up a JustGiving page, which has so far raised more than £4,500. He’s set a target of £7,500.

Mr Caldwell, of Gosport, said: ‘The support has been brilliant from family and friends, who have been running around to help.’

Youngsters who knew Imogen at performing group The Young Creatives Portsmouth sang a poignant version of James Bay’s Hold Back The River and released heart and star-shaped balloons into the sky in her memory at the Chaos Support charity’s annual summer fete in Havant at the weekend.

To donate, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/imogen

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