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Meningitits Awareness Week: 17-23 September 2012
How serious are meningitis or septicaemia?
These diseases affect around 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland annually. They can strike anyone without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.
What is the cost of these diseases?
The MRF estimates that the life-long costs of medical treatment and ongoing care for a person seriously disabled by the disease are around £3 million. As a result the MRF is calling on the UK Government to pursue the widest implementation of vaccines to prevent all types of meningitis and septicaemia. Though Christopher Head, Chief Executive of MRF said,
“We must remember that vaccines do not prevent all strains of meningitis and septicaemia yet, so it’s vitally important that everyone is MeningitisWise and remains aware of the symptoms.”
What are the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia?
Illness often starts with non-specific symptoms such as fever, vomiting and lethargy and is sometimes mistaken for milder illnesses such as flu or an ear infection.
Symptoms of meningitis
Severe headache; Stiff neck; Dislike of bright lights; Fever/vomiting; Drowsy and less responsive/vacant; Rash; Seizures (fits) may also be seen.
Symptoms of septicaemia
Rash; fever/vomiting; cold hands and feet/shivering; limb/joint/muscle pain; abdominal pain (sometimes with diarrhoea); pale or mottled skin; rapid or unusual breathing, drowsy and less responsive/vacant.
Other symptoms in babies
Tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot); blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue; refusing to feed; irritable when picked up, with a high pitched or moaning cry; a stiff body with jerky movements or else floppy and lifeless.
What should I do if I suspect someone has meningitis or septicaemia?
Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours. If you suspect a case of meningitis, seek medical help immediately by the quickest route possible, whether this is by contacting your GP, phoning an ambulance, or going to hospital. People are urged to trust their instincts. Do not wait for a rash to develop, as this is a late sign of septicaemia and does not appear with some kinds of meningitis.
Head Injury UK
We support the research and awareness work of the MRF to try and prevent as many cases as possible of septicaemia and meningitis, which mainly affects babies, pre-school children and young people, with one third of cases in the UK in babies under one year old. A delay in diagnosis or treatment can result in a child left with serious disability or even death. Our specialist lawyers are experienced in helping families who suspect that a doctor of hospital did not correctly recognise and treat the signs quickly enough. So if you, or anyone you know, has been affected by either meningitis or septicaemia, please contact Clare Langford to see how she can help you.
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