Charity issues new meningitis warning

With the cold weather looking set to continue, parents and carers were today urged to look out for the first signs of meningitis.

IPSWICH: With the cold weather looking set to continue, parents and carers were today urged to look out for the first signs of meningitis.

National charity The Meningitis Trust is warning people to watch out for the symptoms of the deadly brain disease, particularly as cases tend to increase over the winter months.

The warning follows the tragic deaths of three Ipswich children - 11-month-old Ellie Parsons, and two-year-olds Rhianna Warner and Kyron Vince - who all died of suspected meningitis within three weeks of each other.

The charity claims that nearly 60 per cent of the most serious bacterial types occur between October and March and, although the disease affects all ages, over half of those cases will be in children under five.

Fighting infections like colds and flu weakens the immune system, leaving people more vulnerable to meningitis.

There is an increased risk in winter because people tend to spend more time indoors and in closer proximity to others, meaning germs spread more easily.

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Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust, said: “With experts suggesting that the bad weather could continue for a few weeks, we are urging people to remain vigilant to the symptoms.

“Worryingly, the symptoms can easily look like other, more common conditions, such as flu or swine flu. But, it's important to err on the side of caution, be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, and seek medical attention as a matter of urgency if you suspect the disease.

“With access to doctors, hospitals and medical centres limited because of the treacherous roads, it is even more important for people to keep meningitis at the back of their minds and tell their doctor if they are concerned about the disease, as meningitis can take hold very quickly and kill in hours.”

For more information about the symptoms, visit the charity's website at www.meningitis-trust.org, or call the 24-hour helpline, staffed by nurses, on 0800 0281828.

Do you know someone who has had meningitis and has a story to tell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

A guide on how to spot the early signs of meningitis is today available to concerned parents and carers.

The Evening Star has produced posters in association with charity The Meningitis Trust which displays a checklist to help people quickly identify symptoms of the deadly disease.

The posters have been distributed to libraries in south east Suffolk and are also available from the Star's offices in Lower Brook Street along with some newsagents.

Although young children are more likely to contract the infection, it can occur in young adults too.

Among the symptoms that may be experienced by babies or young children include fever, a rash or spots, vomiting, distress and cold feet or hands.

Older children and young adults may experience a dislike of bright lights, violent headaches and stomach upsets.

If you cannot get hold of one of our posters and would like a copy, e-mail sue.gipps@archant.co.uk or call 01473 324843.

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