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Wath meningitis appeal

Family, friends and anyone else who knew two student victims of meningitis are being urged to come forward for preventive treatment by South Yorkshire public health officers.

The students, Claire Wilkinson, 14, and Adam Rawson, 15, who attended Wath comprehensive school, near Rotherham, died on New Year's eve within 24 hours of exhibiting symptoms of the illness. A third teenager, Louise Salmons, 16, an ex-pupil of the school, is being treated in hospital for suspected meningitis and is said to be doing well.

Heads from 30 schools near Wath comprehensive attended a briefing on Monday held by Rotherham's chief education officer, Harry Bower. The meeting was also attended by education officers from nearby Doncaster and Barnsley.

"I held the briefing to tell people what had happened and what steps were being taken by the health authority to protect pupils," said Mr Bower.

"Heads wanted to know what had happened and how we coped." An immunisation programme at the school, which has 1,700 pupils, took place on Monday and Tuesday, when pupils returned for injections as a further precaution after receiving antibiotics on Sunday.

Wath comprehensive, once attended by the Conservative leader, William Hague, will be closed for lessons until Wednesday at the earliest. Scheduled mock GCSE examinations will be postponed until January 11.

At least nine fatal cases of meningitis have been reported over Christmas and the New Year, with most of the victims children or teenagers. With December and January peak times for the disease, health experts are warning the public to watch out for symptoms.

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