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health

07 December 2016

Expected Rise in Cases of Meningitis

Cases of meningitis and septicaemia are expected to rise over the winter period, and people should be especially aware of the symptoms at this time, a leading charity has warned.

The Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that there have been on
average around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK.

One in ten people affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness or hearing loss.Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk, however these diseases can strike anyone, of any age, at any time. Bacteria that can cause meningitis are most commonly found living harmlessly in the nose and throats of adolescents and young
adults but can be passed on to others, through social contact.

Scientists have recently shown that adolescents are more likely to have higher numbers of these bacteria in their throats in winter.
Rapid identification and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia provides the best chance of survival, however it can often be missed because in the early stages the symptoms resemble many other less serious illnesses, such as flu.

Early symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights
and confusion.

Around 50 per cent of children with the most common cause of bacterial meningitis are turned away by their GP at first visit. It’s important for parents to trust their instincts and return to a health professional quickly if their child’s symptoms progress. To find
out more about the symptoms visit meningitis.org/symptoms or call the Freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344.

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