Parents mourn loss of second little girl in less than four years
A FAMILY who lost a daughter in a road accident have been struck by tragedy a second time after the death of her sister from suspected meningitis.
Aine Kennedy (6) from Carnew in Co Wicklow died at Wexford General Hospital on Tuesday evening after falling ill at the weekend.
Her older sister, Aoife, was five when she was killed in November 2006 after being struck by a car while crossing the road in Carnew.
Heartbroken parents Caroline and Matthew are being comforted by relatives and friends as they attempt to get over the loss of a second little girl.
Friends and teachers of little Aine yesterday held a prayer service at her school, St Senan's in Templeshannon, Enniscorthy, where she was a senior infant in the autistic pupils' unit. Counsellors were brought into the school yesterday to offer support to students and staff, along with a psychologist from the National Educational Psychological Service.
School principal Dr Henry Goff yesterday described how all at St Senan's were "deeply shocked and saddened" by Aine's tragic death.
"Aine was with us in the school for the past two years," Dr Goff said. "Her smiles and giggles filled our hearts and will remain with us forever.
"She gladdened the hearts of everyone who came in contact with her and she will be sadly missed by us all."
Teachers and special needs assistants have been helping Aine's friends and school-mates through this difficult period, according to the principal.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family at this difficult time," he said.
The HSE last night sympathised with the family on their "tragic loss" and confirmed that a child's death was due to suspected septicaemia, which may have been caused by meningococcal infection. Further test results are awaited before confirming the cause of death.
"When a case of meningitis, or an illness suspected to be caused by the meningococcal organism, is notified to the HSE, medical personnel immediately put in place the standard preventative measures for close family contacts and undertake all contact tracing and follow-up according to national meningococcal guidelines," the HSE said in a statement. "Local GPs are also notified."
Public health specialist Dr John Cuddihy advised the public to be continually vigilant regarding the disease.
"Meningitis is more prevalent during the autumn/winter months and it can be a potentially fatal disease if it is untreated," Dr Cuddihy said.
"If the disease is diagnosed early and treated promptly, most people make a complete recovery.
"We feel it is important to focus attention on the symptoms of the infection so that parents and the public in general know what signs to look out for."
The condition of a person with meningitis will deteriorate rapidly, sometimes in a matter of hours, he said. "The HSE therefore urges that if meningococcal disease is suspected, medical advice should be sought immediately."