Meningitis: Keep Watching

Meningitis, the word every parent fears, I know I certainly do. Here in the UK there are on average over 3,400 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia every year and they kill more children under five than any other infectious disease.

Whilst vaccines are now available against some forms of the disease, there aren’t vaccines against all types and it is a myth that children are therefore protected against all forms of meninigitis. Dr Nelly Ninis, Consultant Paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital London and supporter of the Meningitis: Keep Watching campaign says: “Children are only protected against some types of meningitis so parents must be aware of the signs and seek urgent medical help as this disease can maim or kill within hours.”

Meningitis: Keep Watching is a campaign spearheaded by Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK who have now merged and are now known as Meningitis Now (as of Dec 2013) with support from Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited, encouraging parents to remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms of the disease. The campaign came about after research found that more than two-thirds of parents in the UK are unaware that current vaccinations do not protect their children from all forms of the disease. This is a misconception that could be putting lives at risk.


Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord and septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease. Meningitis can be viral or bacterial. Viral meningitis isn’t life threatening and people generally make a full recovery. However bacterial meningitis is more serious.

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis that is most common here in the UK and affects the brain membrane. It can cause severe brain damage and if untreated is fatal in 50% of cases.

The most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting. Other meningitis symptoms in toddlers and babies may include refusing to eat / feed, irritability (not wanting to be held or touched), stiff body with jerky movements or floppiness and unable to stand up. Babies may also have a bulging fontanelle and a high pitched cry or moan.

meningitis keep watching

Many people will probably know of the “tumbler test”. This is a simple test where you roll a glass tumbler over  any rash that has developed on the skin. If the rash doesn’t fade when the tumbler is rolled across the skin this is also a sign of meningitis and action should be taken quickly. However don’t just wait for a rash, the other symptoms are just as important and with meningitis time is of the essence. Rashes should also be checked with the tumbler test frequently as the spots may initially fade.

meningitis keep watching

Meningitis / Septicaemia bacteria is transmitted from person-to-person through close and prolonged contact with someone carrying the infection – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone. Living in close proximity with an infected person also facilitates the spread of the disease. The average incubation period is four days, but can range between two and 10 days.

Most people who get meningitis and septicaemia survive without any long-term effects, but sometimes they can cause a range of disabilities and problems that can be life changing.

Sarah Lockey’s daughter Tilly contracted meningococcal septicaemia when she was only 15 months old. The disease took hold quickly and through her mother’s prompt actions, Tilly survived but  very sadly had to have a double amputation as a result. The below video shows Sarah and Tilly talking about their emotional and life changing experience.

As Sarah states meningitis is “every parents worst nightmare” and that is why I want to support the Meningitis: Keep Watching campaign and help spread the word for parents to remain vigilant. It’s too devastating an illness to ignore.

How you too can help:

Downloadable resources:
Meningitis Research Foundation, Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK have a number of resources available for parents to download, including handy symptom checkers. These can be found here:
http://www.meningitis.org/news-media/download-resources
http://www.meningitis-trust.org/meningitis-info/signs-and-symptoms/babies-and-toddlers/
http://www.meningitisuk.org/meningitis/advice/awareness-resources

Comments

  1. Well written, and a very important post. One thing I don’t think is publicised enough is that the symptoms aren’t necessarily what you think – like the rash that can appear after other symptoms (or even not at all in some cases) so you really do have to act fast like Tilly’s mum did.

    Another thing that I don’t think is publicised enough is that babies under three months old should *never* have a fever – if they do, they should be taken to a doctor straight away. The only symptom that my youngest had was a high temperature, otherwise she seemed fairly well. If she’d been over 2 months we’d have just given Calpol but because she was 5 weeks old we took her to a doctor.

    Fortunately in our case it was viral meningitis, and a form that actually didn’t need any medication to get over. But also fortunately the hospital acted quickly, taking a lumbar puncture to see which form it was, and starting her on antibiotics and antivirals immediately to cover all forms, just in case. It could have saved her life. If it had been bacterial and I’d just given her Calpol… I don’t even want to think :-(

    Thank-you for raising awareness of such an important issue xx

    • amummysview says:

      Oh my! Well done to you too and the doctors for acting quickly and thanks for your comments and sharing of this post. Like you say it’s important to get the word out there. So glad your little girl was ok xxx

  2. Thank you so much for the informative post! I assumed the vaccine meant they were totally protected, very naive of me xx

    • amummysview says:

      You’re welcome. I did too until I was told. That’s why I think it’s so important to spread the word. Hopefully one day there will be full vaccines x

  3. Our daughter contracted meningococcal meningitis when she was 9 months old and luckily survived, only because the one doctor told me to trust my instincts, thus we went to emergency. http://alwaysaredhead.com/meningococcal-disease/

    • amummysview says:

      wow! I am so glad you did. I am a firm believer in trusting your gut. Glad to hear she was ok xxx

Trackbacks

  1. […] View shared some important information about Meningitis and the signs to look out for in Meningitis: Keep Watching. This is a cause close to my heart, knowing how lucky we were when DG was a […]

  2. […] Bacterial meningitis is the leading infectious killer in children under five and 3,400 people every year in the UK are affected by it. The majority of cases are caused by Meningitis B, which accounts for around 55% of all bacterial meningitis and septicaemia cases. Sadly up to one in ten of those who contract meningitis will die and many survivors are left with life long after effects, including amputations. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent and control bacterial meningitis. However, children in the UK are not routinely protected against all types. I wrote a post last year regarding what to look for, so if you want to find out more about signs and symptoms take a look here. […]

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