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Leading UK charity raises awareness for World Meningitis Day

By Amanda Scott

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Leading UK meningitis charity Meningitis Now has launched a new Signs and Symptoms video to help raise awareness of the deadly disease to mark World Meningitis Day on Saturday 24 April.

The charity is also calling on local supporters to raise awareness with friends, family and in their community and help #DefeatMeningitis.

In a second video released for the annual day, an initiative of the worldwide Confederation of Meningitis Organisations, charity supporters Holly and Lewis Andrews, from Worcester, are also helping to spread the word by telling their story.

In the video Holly and Lewis talk about how they had already watched their son Theo battle bacterial meningitis in 2018. Fortunately, he recovered. When his baby brother Jasper became unwell in March 2020 they couldn’t believe that history seemed to be repeating itself.

“Meningitis can wreck lives and it’s vital that everybody understands how serious it can be for individuals and families. That’s why we’re supporting World Meningitis Day.

“By telling our story, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and increasing vaccine knowledge, we hope to raise the profile of this devastating disease,” they said.

Thankfully, Jasper, who was diagnosed with viral meningitis, also went on to make a good recovery.

Holly added: “I couldn’t get my head around the fact that both our babies had contracted meningitis. I had so many questions, so many whys? What ifs? How could this have happened again? What did we do wrong?

“I reached out to Meningitis Now again, and shared all my concerns and all my questions, and they were great. They told me about a Facebook support group, which has been a huge help for me.

“Both boys are doing fantastic, they’re both so happy, so content and are already the best of friends, they love each other so much.

“We still can’t quite believe that in the last three years meningitis has hit our little family twice and I don’t think you can ever get over the constant worrying and panicking, but I think it’s just something you learn to live with.”

The family’s full story is on the charity’s website at www.meningitisnow.org/support-us/news-centre/meningitis-stories/jaspers-story

Meningitis Now is calling on local supporters to raise awareness with friends, family and in their community and help #DefeatMeningitis.
Meningitis Now is calling on local supporters to raise awareness with friends, family and in their community and help #DefeatMeningitis.

Meningitis Now Chief Executive, Dr Tom Nutt, said: “We want to use World Meningitis Day to help spread the word and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and reinforce that, on World Meningitis Day, as on every other day, we are here to help and support those who need us.

“With the impact of Covid-19 leading to some people missing their immunisations and the number of meningitis cases expected to rise when people start to gather again it’s important that we keep meningitis awareness on everybody’s radar.

“Please join us on 24 April for World Meningitis Day, take action and #DefeatMeningitis.”

Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by bacteria or viruses.Early signs and symptoms can be similar to ‘flu, tummy bug or a hangover and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain and stomach cramps.

More specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash, which doesn’t fade under pressure. Symptoms can occur in any order and some may not appear at all.

If someone is ill and getting worse seek urgent medical attention.

Of those who contract bacterial meningitis one in ten will die and one in three survivors will be left with life-changing after-effects.

The awareness day takes place as Meningitis Now launches its new five-year strategy aiming to defeat meningitis in the UK within a generation.

The charity is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.

It does this by funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.

For more information visit www.meningitisnow.org

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