A six-year-old girl from Co Antrim has died suddenly after developing a rash - although the health authorities will not reveal if there is any cause for public concern.
Named locally as Leah Quinn from the Cushendun area, the little girl died while being treated at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine on Sunday.
It is believed her death may have been caused by meningitis or scarlet fever, both communicable diseases.
However, last night neither the Northern Health and Social Services Trust, the Public Health Agency nor the Department of Health would confirm or deny whether the child had died of either disease.
It was confirmed that the coroner’s investigation into the child’s death had been completed late yesterday.
The small coastal town of Cushendun was plunged into deep shock when the news of the child’s death circulated on Monday.
It is understood the little girl’s parents took her to Causeway Hospital for treatment for a sore throat on Saturday following a holiday break to Donegal.
She was not admitted overnight and sent home.
Her parents are said to have taken her back to the hospital when a rash developed and at that point viral meningitis was suspected. Sadly, the child died.
It is believed Leah had a twin brother, Eoin, and lived with her family in the Ballyvoy area of Co Antrim before recently moving closer to Cushendun.
She and her brother were pupils at Barnish Primary School in Co Antrim and were due to begin the new school term at St Ciaran’s Primary School in Knocknacarry in September.
According to NHS Choices, viral meningitis can either be mild or severe. Most severe cases of viral meningitis can be treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids. There is also bacterial meningitis which will need an immediate hospital admission.
Most cases of meningitis in adults or older children are not fatal, but in other cases it can prove so, particularly in infants aged under two. Scarlet fever is also a bacterial illness that mainly affects children.
It causes a distinctive reddish-pink rash and it usually follows a sore throat combined with a high temperature.
The disease is highly contagious but it is not as serious for children as it once was.
A meningitis B vaccine is to be included in the childhood vaccination programme in Northern Ireland from late autumn.
Since 2010 there have been around 25 to 35 cases of Meningitis B each year in Northern Ireland.
Students and teenagers across Northern Ireland were recently urged to avail of a new meningitis vaccine, to protect them against a potentially deadly strain of the disease.
School leavers and first-time university students are to get the new meningococcal vaccine, which is now available.
Through a new immunisation programme, everyone born between July 2, 1996 and July 1, 1997, and first time university students up to the age of 25, will be offered the Men ACWY vaccine.