Tuscan meningitis outbreak spurs injections

The mystery outbreak of meningitis in Tuscany has claimed another victim, causing health authorities to renew their calls for Tuscans to get vaccinated against the disease.

Tuscan meningitis outbreak spurs injections
A mystery meningitis outbreak in Tuscany has prompted a mass vaccination campaign. Photo: U.S Army Corps/Flickr

A 44-year-old woman died from meningitis in Prato on Monday.

In September there were 32 cases of meningitis across the province, causing seven deaths, six from meningitis C, and one from meningitis B, Pisa Today reported.

Following the latest death, Stefania Saccardi, the regional healthcare councillor for Florence, renewed calls for Tuscans to get the meningococcal vaccination, which protects against both forms of the disease.

“It prevents the risk of contracting the disease and protects those vaccinated and those around them,” she said in a statement.

At present, the cause of the outbreak remains a mystery.

“We can't explain the outbreak of meningitis C in Tuscany – but we are working with health authorities to monitor the situation to find a response,” Saccardi said.

Following the first cases in September, Tuscany launched a huge vaccination drive mobilizing thousands of doctors who have so far vaccinated more than 150,000 people under the age of 45.

But amid healthcare concerns in Tuscany, the National Health Institute has expressed concerns over the drop in the number of children across Italy being vaccinated against various diseases.

Data published on Tuesday by La Stampa showed that in 2014, 95 percent of Italian children were vaccinated against polio, while only 84 percent of children were vaccinated against parotitis and rosiola – a four percent reduction on the previous year.

In light of the figures the National Institute of Health told the newspaper that “forgotten” diseases could re-emerge across Italy if vaccination rates continued to fall.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italian researchers discover 14 descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci living in Tuscany

Historians are searching for relatives of the Italian Renaissance artist as a study of his genealogy aims to ‘better understand his genius’.

Italian researchers discover 14 descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci living in Tuscany
Vinci, the Tuscan village where Leonardo Da Vinci was born. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The researchers behind the project, which has spanned several decades, say they have so far found 14 living relatives aged one and 85.

All of them live in the region of Tuscany, where the painter, scientist, engineer and architect was born in 1452.

READ ALSO: Eight things you might not know about Leonardo Da Vinci

The findings form part of a decades-long project, led by art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato.

The study’s findings, published in the Human Evolution journal, document the male line over the past 690 years, through 21 generations.

Though Da Vinci never married and had no children, he had at least 22 half-brothers, according to researchers.

Born in the Tuscan town of Vinci, he was the illegitimate son of a local notary.

READ ALSO: Vinci, the Tuscan paradise where Leonardo’s genius bloomed

Vezzosi told the Ansa news agency that by 2016 “we had already identified 35 of Leonardo’s living relatives, but they were mostly indirect, in the female line, as in the best-known case of the director Franco Zeffirelli.”

“So they were not people who could give us useful information on Leonardo’s DNA and in particular on the Y chromosome, which is transmitted to male descendants and remains almost unchanged for 25 generations”.

He said the 14 living descendants identified in the study, through painstaking research over the decades, were from the male line.

READ ALSO: Da Vinci’s ‘claw hand’ left him unable to hold palette: researchers

“They are aged between one and 85, they don’t live right in Vinci but in neighbouring towns as far away as Versilia (on the Tuscan coast) and they have ordinary jobs such as a clerk, a surveyor, an artisan,” Vezzosi said.

The relatives’ DNA samples will be analysed in the coming months by the international Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project, led by the Jesse Ausubelof Rockefeller University in New York and supported by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.