Watch out for meningitis in winter months, say Dursley campaigners for Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK
CAMPAIGNERS are urging people to stay alert to the symptoms of meningitis as the peak season for the disease approaches.
Cases of the deadly disease are expected to rise during the winter months.
Aurélie Brunet-Lua, community ambassador for the recently merged Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK in Dursley, said everyone needed to be aware of the symptoms so they can seek medical attention as soon as any doubt arises.
“At this time of the year, with cases expected to rise until they reach a peak in February, it is vital that people are reminded of the disease,” she said. “The disease can affect anyone at any time in their life, is ever so difficult to diagnose early but yet can kill in under four hours.”
When meningitis doesn’t kill, it can leave lifelong damage such as loss of limbs, loss of hearing or sight and learning difficulties.
Aurélie has all too personal experience with the effects of meningitis as her son Mattia, now three years old, was struck down with meningococcal septicaemia aged just four months.
His only symptom was initially a high temperature, which developed in the middle of the night to diarrhoea and a higher temperature. Aurélie noticed a purple mark on his belly and took him to hospital immediately.
Mattia’s state worsened and by 7am next morning he was in an artificial coma fighting for his life.
Luckily Mattia appears to have fully recovered, but people are not always so fortunate.
As well symptoms of other common diseases such as a fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle and joint pain and headache, symptoms specific to meningitis and septicaemia include a stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, unsettled behaviour and confusion, cold hands and feet, abnormal skin colour, and a non-fading rash.
There is no vaccine yet to protect against all forms of meningitis. Meningitis UK funds research for such a vaccine to be found while the Meningitis Trust provides valuable support to families affected by the disease.
The charities are campaigning for a new vaccine against Meningitis B to be introduced in the NHS schedule of vaccinations. You can find out more and sign the petition on www.meningitisuk.org/beatitnow
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