Highland health board chiefs have attempted to allay public fears following the revelation that a fourth-year Nairn Academy pupil has contracted bacterial meningitis.
She remained in Raigmore Hospital in Inverness yesterday, five days after being admitted.
Advisory letters have been distributed to the parents of all of the school’s S2 to S6 pupils, stressing that the case is “rare” and “not particularly infectious”.
It is understood that the unidentified female pupil became ill while at school last Friday and was taken to Raigmore the following day. She is said to be responding well to treatment.
All family and close contacts within the risk period have been identified and given a short course of antibiotics.
NHS consultant in public health medicine Ken Oates said: “This disease is not particularly infectious and it is very unusual for there to be more than one case.
“Although it is very unlikely that there will be another case, I would ask parents to be extra vigilant.”
He said the symptoms varied between patients, but that parents of pupils at the academy should immediately seek medical help from their GP or NHS 24 if their child shows any of the following symptoms – fever, vomiting, severe malaise, visual discomfort in bright light, headaches, stiff neck, drowsiness and a rash of small red spots.
Dr Oates revealed that between four and six cases of the disease surface in Highland schools in an average year.
Meningitis can be life-threatening. It affects the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis and associated septicaemia (blood poisoning) can kill within hours and affect anyone at any time.
Those most at risk are children under the age of five, teenagers and young adults, and people over 55.
As many as 500,000 people living in the UK today have had either viral or bacterial meningitis. NHS Highland has an online information leaflet at http://www.nhs highland.scot.nhs.uk/Publications/Documents/Leaflets /Meningococcal%20Disease%20Leaflet.pdf
The Meningitis Trust, a registered charity, which offers a helpline, counselling, home visits and care can be contacted on 0800 028 18 28 or at www.meningitis-trust.org