What comes to your mind when you think about meningitis? I have to admit for me it is shocking images of children who have lost limbs to this terrifying disease. But what do I know about meningitis, well the fact is not very much at all, so when the tots 100 invited me on an event on unfolding the complexities of meningitis I was intrigued to know more. The event was set up to demistify the disease, to provide accurate information about symptoms and to answer any questions we may have about meningitis. The event was attended by the three UK meningitis charitites Meningitis UK, the Meningitis Research Foundation and theMeningitis Trust, in addition to Dr Rob Hicks, who patneinctly answered all our questions and held a quiz to see if we had listened!
And listen I did, intently. 8 out of 10 parents list meningitis are their most feared childhood diseases and I too was one of those parents. In addition my dad died of septicemia, which is a factor in a lot of meningitus deaths too.
There were a number of key things that I took away from the conference that I want to share with you today.
There are many types of meningitis
Meningitis can caused by three kinds of germs; viral, bacterial and fungal, with viral the most common and least serve. Bacterial meningitis causes the most serve infections and 5 groups, which currently do not all have vaccines available.
Symptoms are Vague, but do not wait for the rash
A rash is actually one of the very last symptoms of meningitis and is the sign of septicemia and it is the thing I remember from my dad, a dark purple rash which was like a bruise. ther are three more sets of symtons which if you see you need to seek mediate help.
- Cold hands and feet even though the person has a fever
- Muscle, joint and limb pain such that the child can’t stand up
- Pale, blotchy skin and blue lips
There is also an app for Android or iOS that provides a guide to meningitis symptoms
Trust your instinct
As a parent you know your child. If you are worried about your child then make sure you take all options open to you. GP’s are only likely to see two cases of meningitis in their career and the symptoms are so vague that is is hard to diagnose. So if you are not happy with the outcome of an appointment, take a second opinion, go to A&E, make a noise. A person with meningitus can go from perfectly heathy to critical in just four hours.
Disclosure: I was paid to attend this event