European meningitis experts have turned to vital Hong Kong research in their quest to find a cure for the killer disease. Tests carried out on Hong Kong children which found them to be immune to one of the main bacterial causes of meningitis are playing a leading role in research at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. Dr Rita Sung Yn Tz, of the Chinese University's Department of Paediatrics, carried out the tests on 621 Chinese children and 300 Vietnamese children in detention camps. She found the carriage rate of Haemophilus influenza type B - one of the main causes of meningitis in children - was zero in the Chinese children and 1.3 per cent in the Vietnamese. Previous studies revealed similar findings. Although it is 'too early to say' if the findings could provide a vital link to stamping out the disease which killed 35 people in Hong Kong in 1994 and hospitalised 319, Dr Sung hopes it will boost the Dutch research. 'Chinese children just don't seem to carry the bacteria. It appears to be more common in the West,' she said. Meningitis is an infectious disease of the nervous system caused by a germ such as a bacterium or virus. The germ attacks the meninges, the three layers of membrane that envelop the spinal cord and brain. The fast-moving disease has symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting, and can kill if not detected early. The vice-president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, Dr David Lee Ka-yan, said meningitis was still 'relatively rare' in Hong Kong. 'Maybe one of the reasons is that children in this locality go to see doctors very early. Maybe we have early detection,' he said. 'About 20 years ago, there were a lot more cases.'