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21 December 2011

Alert: Man with contagious meningitis on the run

Pretoria - A man with highly contagious meningococcal meningitis has absconded from Mamelodi Hospital outside Pretoria, the Gauteng health and social development department said on Wednesday.

Health authorities and police are looking for 26-year-old Dave Danneth, of Phomolong extension six, Mamelodi East, spokesperson Simon Zwane said in a statement.

Danneth absconded from the hospital after being diagnosed earlier this month.

"The hospital immediately called his brother, Bongani, and explained the seriousness of the illness to him. The brother confirmed that the patient was at home and promised to return him to the hospital, but never did. The contact number has since been off," he said.

Meningococcal meningitis is contagious. According to the World Health Organisation it can cause severe brain damage and deaths in 50% of cases if left untreated.

It is transmitted through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions, as well as close or prolonged contact such as kissing, sneezing, and coughing on someone.

Symptoms include severe headache, fever, vomiting, irritability, reduced consciousness and rashes on the body.

People were warned to avoid contact with anyone suspected of having meningitis. Zwane strongly advised anyone who did so, to wash themselves immediately afterwards.

"Those who experience these symptoms or have been in contact with people with meningitis should immediately present themselves at a health facility where they will be examined and given necessary medication," Zwane said.

- SAPA/News24