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‘Meningitis is still here’ warns Frome mum – so make sure you know the symptoms

A  Frome mum has shared her first-hand experience of meningitis and septicaemia with the local community during national Meningitis Awareness Week (15th -21st September 2014) to ensure people are aware of the symptoms.

International charity Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that meningitis and septicaemia affect approx nine people in the UK and Ireland every day.

They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in 10, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs. Children under five and students are most at risk, but the diseases can strike at any age and not all forms are currently covered by vaccines.

Frome mum Pauline Knowles said, “My son Nigel contracted TB meningitis when he was four years old and as a result suffered  permanent, serious brain damage which caused blindness, dystonia, poor concentration and poor short term memory.  I was told if his symptoms had been recognised and diagnosed earlier, he probably would not have suffered serious, if any brain damage.

“I am thankful for his survival, but his life has been made difficult by the brain damage that resulted.  I have supported Meningitis Awareness Week as everyone needs to know the symptoms so they can seek medical help fast.”

Christopher Head, chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation added, “We’re very grateful to Pauline for supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen but her personal experience really brings home how devastating these diseases can be and why it’s so important to be aware of the symptoms and be prepared to act fast when loved ones, family and friends fall sick.”

Vaccines have almost eliminated some types of meningitis but not all of them, children are currently vaccinated against Hib, MenC and 13 strains of pneumococcal meningitis.  A MenB vaccine (Bexsero) was recommended for infants in the UK in March 2014 and is available privately but a timetable for implementation free of charge on the NHS is yet to be confirmed.

The UK Government has also introduced a new MenC booster campaign aimed at students starting university. GPs can administer the vaccine free of charge until 31st October. The booster campaign will be repeated every year until 2017.

New students are at increased risk of encountering the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease because they are often living in busy halls of residence and in close contact with other new students during freshers week.  Students should get immunised at least two weeks before they go away to study.

• For symptoms information, research and case studies visit www.meningitis.org

 

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