Don’t mistake meningitis for flu during winter months
25 November 2013
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is warning the public to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia during the winter months and not to mistake the disease for minor illnesses like colds or flu.
The risk of meningitis and septicaemia heightens as winter approaches when people’s immune systems are weakened from fighting common illnesses making them more vulnerable to bacterial meningitis.
Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia affect around 3,400 people across the UK each year. They are easily mistaken for milder illnesses, can kill within 24 hours and may cause serious, life-long disabilities. As many as one in ten of those affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss. More UK children under the age of five die from meningitis and septicaemia than any other infectious disease.
Kevin and Sara Peach from Derbyshire said: “our daughter Katie contracted meningococcal septicaemia in December 2011 aged 3. What started off as seemingly a normal winter bug escalated into something so much more serious in such a short space of time. Everyone did everything they could to save our daughter Katie's life but sadly it was not meant to be. She spent one day short of two weeks fighting the disease before she passed away with her family around her. ”
“Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen, but when they strike they can be devastating not just for the person who falls sick, but for all their loved ones, family and friends.”
Chris Head, CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) said: “We are entering the peak period for meningitis and septicaemia and many parents are not aware that their children are not protected against all strains. There is currently no vaccine available in the UK and Ireland against the most common cause of meningitis -- meningococcal B infection (MenB). A new vaccine against MenB is currently under consideration by the JCVI (the committee that advises Government on vaccines) and we are campaigning hard for it to be introduced as soon as possible. Vaccines have almost eliminated many types of meningitis and septicaemia but they still present a very real threat to our children so being aware of the symptoms and acting fast is essential to saving lives.”