With the cold weather set to stay, national charity, the Meningitis Trust, is warning people to stay vigilant to the signs and symptoms of meningitis as cases of the deadly bacterial form of the disease peak during the winter.
The risk of meningitis increases during the colder months as people spend more time indoors, closer to others; meaning germs are spread more easily. And fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens people’s immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.
Every year 2,500 cases of meningitis are reported in the UK – leaving10% dead and 15% of those who survive with severe after-effects such as brain damage, loss of hearing and sight and, where septicaemia has occurred, loss of limbs and scarring. It’s a disease which can strike in minutes and kill within hours, so knowledge of the symptoms, vigilance and quick action is vital.
Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Trust, says; “Babies and children under five are most at risk of meningitis, with over half of all cases occurring in this age group. However, it can affect anyone, of any age, at any time – even those who consider themselves ‘fit and healthy’ may be left fighting for their life in a matter of hours.
“Meningitis can be a difficult disease to spot – particularly at this time of year – as many of its early symptoms can be similar to those of flu, so we urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the symptoms, trust their instincts and get urgent medical help if concerned. Doing this could save yours or a loved one’s life.”
The symptoms of meningitis can include fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright light, joint or muscle pain, pale blotchy skin, drowsiness, confusion and in babies, a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and bulging fontanelle.
Both adults and children may also have a rash that does not fade under pressure. Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. If concerned, seek urgent medical attention.
Source: Meningitis Trust