Girl, 17, fights off meningitis

Western Daily Press 31/01/2000

By Steve Partridge

STUDENT Karynne Townsend, aged 17, is recovering at Gloucestershire Royal hospital after being struck down by meningitis despite being recently vaccinated against the disease.

Karynne, from Thrupp, near Stroud, had been immunised against the C-strain of the disease at Cirencester College, but then caught the B-strain of the virus.

Her mother Pam found her lying on her bed unconscious a week ago and she was rushed to hospital.

Doctors say she should be able to come home this week but she is not yet out of the woods.

The side-effects of the disease can be devastating, with one in five patients suffering blindness, deafness or brain damage.

But Mrs Townsend said so far the only side-effect Karynne had had was a buzzing in her ears.

Jane Valentine, from the National Meningitis Trust, said as yet there was no protection against the B strain of the disease.

"Several of the research projects we are funding are looking at producing a vaccine against the B strain, but it is some years away," she said.

"Because we haven't got a vaccine for the B strain the best form of protection is being aware of the signs of meningitis."

Julia Warren, from the Meningitis Research Foundation, said public health officials would research who Karynne had been in close contact with and give them antibiotic treatments to kill all bacteria they might be carrying.

The rest of the students and their parents would be warned to look out for meningitis symptoms. These include a reddish-purple bruise-like rash, a loss of interest in food and the surroundings, fever, and cold hands and feet.

Patients can die within hours of contracting the disease if it is not diagnosed quickly.

The National Meningitis Trust helpline number is 0845 600800 and the Meningitis Research Foundation's helpline is 08088 003344.