Meningitis is spread through close contact and new figures from Public Health England Meningococcal Reference Unit show that cases of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia dropped significantly in England and Wales during lockdown – currently at less than a third of cases compared to the same months in previous years. However, as restrictions ease, cases are expected to rise.
Jessica and Tracey are supporting Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) in using Meningitis Awareness Week to warn people not to be complacent. Cases are expected to rise as people socialise again, and as we move into the winter season which is when we see a peak in yearly cases. For example, MRF funded research shows that carriage rates of meningococcal bacteria in university students, one of the high risk-groups for the disease, increase rapidly in the first week of term as students begin to socialise. On the first day, 7% of students carry the bacteria, 11% on day two, 19% on day three and 23% on day four. Among students living in catered halls of residence, carriage rates reached 34% by December of the first term.
Jessica in hospital suffering from bacterial meningitis.
Rob Dawson, Director of Support at MRF added: “Even in the midst of a COVID pandemic, urgent action against meningitis saves lives, so it’s vital people know the signs and symptoms and how to act if someone is ill. While the country is rightly staying alert for COVID, they must also remember to think about meningitis too.”
Jessica has continued to suffer the after effects of meningitis, experiencing difficulty with motor skills, tinnitus, headaches and fatigue. She said: “I wish I’d been taught about meningitis at school. I had never even heard of it before. When they told me in hospital what I had, I didn’t know what they meant.”