Saturday, September 15, 2007

The danger of meningitis

Meninigtis Awareness Week starts on Monday.

The Meningitis Research Foundation have launched a "B Aware campaign" for the week:

Last year in the UK there were more than 3,000 cases of meningitis and septicaemia. Tragically this resulted in the deaths of some 230 babies, children and adults and left many more with after effects, some as serious as brain damage, deafness and amputations. Most of these cases were caused by Group B disease.

My son died of meningitis aged 16 months old. One of the things me and my wife have tried to do, since then, is to help to spread awareness of the symptoms of meningitis. We are currently going through a spasm of media tartletting, to that end.

Babies and toddlers are particularly vulnerable - because their immune systems haven't yet kicked in. But adults are also at risk. A particular "at risk" group are late teenagers. In particular, it seems to affect young people going away to college (they perhaps encounter micro-variants of the germs, which their systems have never encountered before in their previous local environment).

Because meningitis is a group name for a series of diseases which affect the meninges, the lining of the brain, there is no easy, sure-fire symptom to look out for. You need to know the list of symptoms and refer to them. Some or all of the symptoms may occur in varying degrees of obviousness.

If in any doubt, call 080 8800 3344, the Meningitis Research Foundation 24x7 hotline and they will help you. They can also send out a free "B Aware" symptoms pack.

There's a list of the symptoms here on the Meningitis Research Foundation web site.

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