Swedish officials confirm scout has meningitis

Swedish officials confirm scout has meningitis
Swedish scout Erik Lunner being examined after three of his fellow troops contracted suspected meningitis. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Swedish health officials have said that a girl is in serious but stable condition after contracting meningitis at a world scouting gathering in Japan.

Thousands of Swedes who attended a recent scout jamboree in Japan were urged to seek medical help on Monday after three youngsters in Scotland and another three in Sweden developed suspected meningitis after the trip.

On Tuesday health officials confirmed tests had shown that one of the Swedish teenagers – a girl – had contracted the disease. Two other “probable” cases were still being examined.

“It's a serious illness, but her condition is under control,” Mirjam Kontio, a spokeswoman for Stockholm's Karolinska Hospital where she confirmed the girl was being treated, told Sweden's TT newswire.

Some 1,900 Swedes, most of them teens aged 14 to 17, took part in a huge scout camp in Japan from July 28th to August 8th, attended by more than 30,000 people from more than 150 countries.

The World Scout Jamboree is organized every four years and drew more than 40,000 scouts from more than 140 countries when it was held in Kristianstad in southern Sweden in 2011.

On Monday health authorities urged Swedes who went on the trip to get antibiotics to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease, after the three suspected cases emerged.

“You should receive preventive treatment if you have been to the camp, even if you don't feel unwell at all, just to be on the safe side, and without waiting for test results,” said Anders Wallensten, assistant state epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said in a statement.

Swedish scout Erik Lunner, who had been travelling through Japan since the jamboree ended, was one of those who sought medical care after the warning.

“We did not get any information about any kind of illness at the camp. (…) But I still think the probability that I've developed it is fairly low,” he told TT on Monday.

Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and can be life-threatening.

Symptoms include high fever, a stiff neck, vomiting and severe headaches.

Several European participants have displayed symptoms, and three cases had been confirmed in Scotland by Tuesday, the health agency said.