Meningitis Warning

The majority of parents in East Anglia wrongly believe their children are fully protected against deadly brain bug meningitis, a new study has revealed.

An alarming 60 per cent think their youngsters have had vaccines for all strains of the disease, with a further 37 per cent being unsure.

The survey, commissioned by national charity Meningitis UK, also shows that 58 per cent of those in East Anglia are unaware there is still no vaccine for the most common and one of the most deadly forms in the UK – meningitis B.

Meningitis kills more under-fives than any other infectious disease despite existing vaccines for Hib, meningitis C and pneumococcal meningitis.

In the last few months in Ipswich there's been 3 suspected meningitis deaths.  Two children from the same area of the Town died within two days of each other.

 Meningitis UK says results from this latest survey show a worrying level of complacency, which could lead to symptoms being missed and lives being put at greater risk.
Its chief executive Steve Dayman, who lost his own son to the disease, said: “We are really concerned by these results.
“If a parent wrongly believes their child is protected, they could become complacent and not react quickly enough when the early signs of the disease are developing.
“A delay in seeking treatment could be fatal because meningitis can kill in under four hours.
“These results have made us even more determined to find a vaccine to eradicate all forms of meningitis and protect future generations.”
The poll was carried out to coincide with February, which is when cases of meningitis peak.
The disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose because its initial symptoms are similar to the cold and flu.
Children under five and those aged 15 to 25 are most at risk, particularly if their immune system is compromised.

Mark Smith from Ipswich, lost his son Taylor to the disease less than a year ago.  He's know campaigning for more parents to be aware of the symptoms.  He told Heart: "We put him down for his nap and when he woke from that he wasn't himself, nothing too drastic.  Something triggered off straight away, he's not his usual self.  Doctor examined him and found nothing untoward apart from high temperature and possible gastro bug. 

"Probably about 2 o clock in the morning we went in there (his bedroom) he looked his normal self but he had a few small darkish spots on him.  It could have been chicken pox as he had contact with someone who had chicken pox on the Friday.

"We rang the out of hours service and explained what we thought.  About 5 o clock in the morning someone rang back and said how is he now.  We explained about the spots and they said spots don't normally come out until after a week of contact with chicken pox.

"We rushed into his room but he'd gone already."



Classic symptoms:

  • a headache
  • stiff neck
  • dislike of bright light

Other symptoms can include:

  • difficulty supporting own weight
  • fever
  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • confusion and drowsiness

The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis are the same as meningococcal meningitis.

Meningococcal septicaemia

Common symptoms:

  • aching limbs (particularly leg pain)
  • cold hands and feet
  • a rash which starts like pin prick spots and develops rapidly into purple bruising

Other symptoms may include:

  • difficulty supporting own weight
  • fever
  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • confusion and drowsiness
  • difficulty breathing
  • change in skin colour