Six-year-old Kayla 'wiped out in hours' by meningitis, says mum
The mother of a young girl who died of meningitis has revealed how the deadly infection killed her daughter "within hours".
Six-year-old Kayla Carey, from Co Meath, passed away a year ago today.
Her mother, Ger O'Connor, said it had been "terrifying" to watch how quickly Kayla deteriorated.
"Kayla and her cousin were at a family party, and they were both in great form," she said.
"They both felt unwell that night, but they had eaten a lot of cake so we thought that was causing it. Neither of them had a rash or a high temperature."
Ger, who has three younger children Faith (5), Brooklyn (18 months) and Charlie (three months) said Kayla went to bed as normal.
However, in the morning she was still unwell and bruises had appeared on her body.
"I called an ambulance, but by the time she got to hospital, she was black and blue," said Ger. "I knew she was gone. It wiped her out in hours."
Kayla's cousin of 10 was also hospitalised with meningitis but made a full recovery.
"Her cousin had a stronger immune system and that's why she was able to beat it off," added Ger.
"They say it's not contagious, it can only be passed through the nose or mouth, but Kayla and her cousin used the same inhaler for their asthma at the birthday party."
Ger said the family were still coming to terms with Kayla's death and that she still couldn't bear to visit her grave.
She described her young daughter as "having a heart full of gold" and that she loved all things magical.
"There was something about Kayla that just always stood out," she said.
"When people would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she'd say that she wanted to be small forever. We tell her brothers and sister that God just wanted Kayla back because she was so special."
The devastated mum pleaded with other parents to vaccinate their children and to always "trust their instincts".
"Parents just know when something isn't right," she said. "There can be no symptoms with meningitis, it's terrifying how quickly it took Kayla, but it's also so important to vaccinate your kids. Kayla was vaccinated and up to date with her vaccines, but it was the meningitis B strain that she caught, which wasn't included in her MMR vaccine."
A spokesperson for the Meningitis Research Foundation said the bacteria that cause meningitis are transmitted by close contact, such as coughing, sneezing or kissing but that the bacteria do not naturally live or survive for long outside the human body.
In January 2019 alone, there were 17 cases of different forms of meningitis in Ireland.