Professional footballer's daughter, 17 months, dies from rare blood infection just hours after showing symptoms on holiday Toddler's mother said her daughter showed no symptoms the night before she died



11:55 GMT, 14 June 2012

The 17-month-old daughter of a professional footballer has died from a rare blood infection during a family holiday to Lanzarote.

Cici Milly Holden – whose father Dean Holden is a former captain of Oldham Athletic – died within hours of falling ill during the trip to the Canary Islands.

She was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save her. Cici died after contracting meningococcal sepsis – a rare bacterial blood infection.

Tragedy: Cici died within hours of falling ill during a trip to Lanzarote

Tragedy: Cici died within hours of falling ill during a trip to Lanzarote

Dean's wife Danielle Nicholls, a former children's TV presenter, said Cici did not show any signs of illness when she was put to bed the night before she died.

However, by 7.30am on the first morning of their holiday in Playa Blanca, her parents knew something was seriously wrong.

Danielle, 33, said Cici was making a strange 'whimpering' noise and was 'not herself'. She was taken to a medical centre before being transferred to intensive care in hospital.

The infection rapidly spread through her blood, moving to her brain and causing her organs to shut down. She died just after 10.04am on May 21.

Danielle lives in Salford with Dean and their other children – Joey, five, and, Ellis, three.

said: 'Cici was the perfect baby. It is just so shocking, it all
happened so quickly. She was such a healthy baby, I had only ever taken
her to the doctor once.'

Danielle and Dean Holden say they talk about their daughter all the time

Danielle and Dean Holden, seen here in a recent photo, say they talk about Cici all the time

The family have since been told that the deadly virus can present itself with innocuous symptoms such as leg pains and tiredness. Danielle said: 'Cici wasn't talking yet and she was bound to be tired after such a long time travelling, so we wouldn't have known.'

The former CITV presenter, now hosts a show on Salford City Radio. Dean, 32, who has also played for Bolton Wanderers, Shrewsbury, Peterborough, Chesterfield and Falkirk, is currently a free agent after being released by Rochdale in May.

Danielle said: 'Luckily, Dean and I are very strong and we talk about Cici all the time. Ellis was especially close to her and he misses his sister. No parents should ever go through what we have. Cici will always be in our hearts and we will always love her.'

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and
spinal cord. It can be caused by infection with a bacterium or virus, although the former is more severe.

Meningococcal septicaemia is when the bacteria get into the blood stream at which point symptoms develop rapidly.

In small children these include being very floppy or having a stiff body, a shrill cry or unusual moaning, pale blotchy skin, rapid breathing and fever.

The condition kills just under half of sufferers, while one in five will have to undergo amputation. Other complications include hearing damage, stroke and nerve damage.

Routine vaccination protects against some types of bacterial meningitis. It is treated with intravenous antibiotics.