Meningitis – What you need to know

Meningitis kills or disables approx 1.2 million people every year.

As a parent, if you allow your brain to wander into deep dark places, then you can create a pile of worst case scenario’s and drama’s. One of the worst of which, has to be Meningitis – it is just a word, but can strike fear as soon as it leaves a persons lips. I know first hand how being told your child has Meningitis feels, as those words left a doctors lips and hit my ears when he was just 7 weeks old. Thankfully he is absolutely fine and has had no lasting effects, he was one of the very lucky ones and there is not a day that goes by where I am not eternally grateful for that, many others have been far less fortunate. The fear comes from the incredible power and speed at which it can take hold, it can disable and kill in a matter of hours.

As this week marks Meningitis awareness week, we felt some useful facts and information seemed appropriate, in the hope that if it helps one person act faster, it could save lives.

1. There are three main types of Meningitis, Viral, Bacterial and Fungal.

2. It kills or disables approx 1.2 million people every year.

3. Meningitis can be hard to recognise in the early stages. Symptoms can be similar to those of the common flu, including: fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, drowsiness, muscle and leg pain. Hands and feet can often be cold, there is often a dislike of being held and an unusual cry, convulsions and seizures, a bulging fontenella (soft spot), rapid breathing or grunting and perhaps drowsy or unresponsive.

4. Meningitis can effect anyone, but children under 5 and adolescents 15-19 years old are more prone to the disease. It is inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

5. Not all forms of Meningitis lead to a rash. But if you do see a rash, do the glass test, a rash that does not fade under the pressure of a glass, could be Meningitis.

How can I help my child ?

1. Get your baby vaccinated – significant advances have been made in vaccinations for Meningitis :

*Introduction of the Hib vaccine in 1992
*Introduction of the Men C Vaccine in 1999
*Pneumococcal Vaccine was introduced in 2006
*Men ACWY was introduced in Aug 2015 for children between 13years & 18 years and new University Students
*Men B Vaccine was introduced into the Child Immunisation Program in sept 2015.

2. Know the symptoms, why not download this app to help.

3. You know your child, trust your instincts.

4. Describe the symptoms and say you are concerned it could be meningitis

5. If you have had medical advice but are still worried – go back.

6. Get medical advice and keep a close eye, if things worsen or your not happy, go back.

We hope you never experience this and that research and vaccines continue to help reduce the impact of this horrendous disease.

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