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19 September 2012, 05:36
A Lowestoft dad is encouraging people across Suffolk and Norfolk to help support Meningitis Week by becoming meningitisWISE after his son suffered from it.
Ben Hodds, 36, wants to raise awareness of the illness and the initial symptoms after his son Ethan was diagnosed with meningitis in 2006.
Ethan was given less than 10% chance of survival after contracting meningitis at the age of just one-years-old.
However he was labeled by James Paget University Hospital as a miracle child after he made a full recovery with no reoccurring symptoms.
Ben, a father of five has since raised thousands of pounds to help support the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).
He said: “This is my way of saying thank you for the research they [MRF] have done which allowed doctors at James Paget and Addenbrookes to do the work which has kept me with Ethan.
“I want more people to be aware of meningitis. It’s great that I’m raising money to help others through their MRF’s research.
“I have friends who have lost children to meningitis and they weren’t as fortunate as I have been with Ethan. Somebody was certainly looking over us that day.”
According to MRF, meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise at first.
Symptoms can appear in any order, but the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell.
Limb pain and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than a rash, neck stiffness, photophobia and confusion. However not everyone gets these symptoms.
There is currently no single vaccine that can prevent meningitis and septicaemia although many babies in the UK are vaccinated against Group C meningococcal meningitis.
As a result the MRF launched a petition last year calling on the UK government to pursue the widest and earliest implementation of vaccines to prevent all types of meningitis and septicaemia.
Christopher Head, Chief Executive of MRF said: “There is currently no vaccine for meningococcal B disease which is responsible for the majority of cases in the UK and Ireland.
“However we must remember that vaccines do not prevent all strains of meningitis and septicaemia yet, so it’s vitally important that people are meningitisWISE and remain aware of the symptoms.”
The MRF estimates that around 3,400 get bacterial meningitis and associated septicaemia in the UK each year – around nine people everyday.