National Meningitis Week – Meningitis Awareness and new Advancements in Vaccines

This week is National Meningitis Week,  and I want to stray a wee bit off the Wedding path to raise Meningitis Awareness, ensure people are well informed about this fiercesome disease, and share some news on advancements made in Vaccines.

 

Glass-Test-490[1]

 

The word “Meningitis” strikes fear in our hearts, and its something I think we all hope and pray never happens to us.

A few years ago I shared the story of Rebecca Doyle of  Chez Bec and Rachel Southwood of Wedding Ideas Magazine whose lives were touched by this horrendous disease.

Their accounts were understandably very painful to recall, but they were passionate about raising awareness of this disease.

Both of Rebecca’s children, Issy and Max were affected, but thankfully came through after treatment and are now happy 4 year olds, and Rachel’s husband Mark also came through after a tough time.

They were lucky, others are not.

 

If there is anything that can be learned from these stories, and if there is just one thing you do today, read and be well informed of the symptoms of this terrifying illness.

Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can kill in hours.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining around the brain, and spinal cord

Septicaemia is the blood poisoning that can stem from the disease.

Meningitis and Septicaemia can cause symptoms such as a severe headache, vomiting, high fever, stiff neck, pale mottled skin, breathlessness/irregular breathing, sleepiness, confusion, sensitivity to light, and seizures though symptoms in adults and children differ.

Many people (but not all) also develop a distinctive skin rash. [source]

Up to 34 million UK adults wrongly think a rash is the main symptom of meningitis

Believing the rash is the only symptom costs lives; as the rash, that does not fade under pressure, (a sign of blood poisoning) does not always appear.
When it does it can be one of the last symptoms to be displayed, often too late. [source]

There are several different types of Meningitis from bacterial, viral, meningococcal, pneumococcal, hib, TB, neonatal, and fungal.

 

Today I want to focus on about the advancements in vaccines for Meningitis.

Meningitis is a disease that has affected millions of people around the world.

However, with on-going campaigns to raise awareness and medical advancements, patients can be diagnosed and treated quicker than ever before.

In National Meningitis Week, which happens this week starting 16th September, awareness needs to be raised of this life threatening disease.

Following up on Plans and Presents feature giving the details and symptoms of meningitis, and the Survivor stories, we have an update of some of the medical advancements that have been made over the last two years.

As it stands, meningitis kills or maims around a fifth of those with the disease.

However, 2012 saw a breakthrough vaccine for Meningitis B that helps to protect against 73% of Meningitis B infections (in a clinical trial on 7,500 infants, children and adults).

Meningitis B accounts for 55% of the cases and is known to be the hardest type to treat.

It is a bacterial infection that is contracted mainly by children under five and it is the speed at which it develops which makes this disease every parent’s worst nightmare.

The vaccine, called Bexsero, has since received a UK licence, however, as of July 2013, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided not to include the Bexsero in the routine childhood vaccination schedule.

This is because they feel it would not be a cost effective use of NHS resources and stress that the effectiveness of the vaccine may wear off over time.

Despite Bexsero being available for purchase in the UK, the availability is limited and so would require a consultation with your GP.

In the meantime, spotting the symptoms as soon as possible is still vital.

 

Therefore, raising awareness of the symptoms of Meningitis B is still as important as ever;

* Meningitis B in the very young can cause a high temperature, vomiting, a high pitched cry and refusal to eat or drink.

* Babies may show a tense or bulging fontanel, rapid breathing, having a limp or stiff body or blotchy of pale skin.

* Older children and adults can feel a stiff, painful neck, a severe headache and/or sensitivity to bright lights, as well as a fever or vomiting. They may also feel extremely drowsy and even fall unconscious.

* Some of the earliest signs for older children include cold hands and feet, a pale or bluish skin colour and pains in their legs.

* One of the most noticeable tell-tale signs of Meningitis is the blotchy rash that doesn’t fade under pressure (the easiest way to test this is by placing a glass over the rash).

 

If there are any worries that you, or a loved one is suffering from these symptoms, PLEASE take immediate action.

 

 

For more information about the legal implications surrounding meningitis today, please see here.

To donate or find out more information about how you can become involved in meningitis week please visit the Meningitis Wise website.

 

Other Meningitis Resources

 

The Meningitis Trust – http://www.meningitis-trust.org/

Meningitis UK – http://www.meningitisuk.org/

 

Thanks to Jennifer for sharing these advancements as a follow up to my previous articles. It is encouraging to know that these advancements are being made.

However as a parent it makes me a bit sad that childrens lives are being seen as not cost effective, with this new vaccine being available but not funded.

I urge you to increase your Meningitis Awareness and be Meningitis Wise today….

 

Author Credit: (With regards to advancements) – Jennifer Kelly for recommending this post.

Image Credit: The Glass Test – The Meningitis Trust

More about ALISON TINLIN

UK Wedding Blogger with an eclectic style based in Glasgow

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