Pensioner's meningitis warning

SUFFOLK pensioner Raymond Woolston is urging people to be vigilent for the signs of meningitis after losing his wife to the disease.Mr Woolston, 84, of Ludbrook Road, Needham Market, is keen to help other people after his wife, Nina, died aged 80 from meningitis and septicaemia.

SUFFOLK pensioner Raymond Woolston is urging people to be vigilent for the signs of meningitis after losing his wife to the disease.

Mr Woolston, 84, of Ludbrook Road, Needham Market, is keen to help other people after his wife, Nina, died aged 80 from meningitis and septicaemia.

She died within about 21 hours of first feeling unwell.

Mr Woolston said: "It was something that happened very suddenly and for no apparent reason. She died within about 10 or 12 hours of going into hospital.


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"We were at home and she woke up in the morning at about 7am and she was fine. We had breakfast and at about 10am, she said she didn't feel very well and had flu symptoms, so she went back to sleep again.

"Throughout the day, she felt even worse.

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"She had a lack of energy, high temperature and aches all over – very similar to flu. But she wasn't vomiting. She did have a few spots, but they were very indistinct.

"I called the doctor, who called an ambulance at about 9pm.

"She was pretty well unconscious by that time. I didn't go to the hospital – which is something I will always regret.

"I phoned Ipswich Hospital at about 11.30pm and they sad there was no change. I got her things ready and phoned the hospital at about 5.30am in the morning and they said to get there as fast as I could.

"I got there at about 7.10am with my daughter – but they said she had passed away at 6.55am."

Over the last three years, there have been nearly 10,000 cases of meningitis and septicaemia nationwide – and 1,200 of these cases have resulted in death.

For Mr Woolston, his wife's death in January 1998 was an unbelievable shock.

He said: "It is still heartbreaking, even though it was five years ago. I have worn her wedding ring ever since.

"With meningitis, the fact that it happens so suddenly might make someone aware that it is not flu."

Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord and septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease. These diseases can kill within hours.

Meningitis is caused by bacteria, viruses and – albeit rarely - fungi. Viral meningitis is only rarely fatal but meningococcal bacteria can cause both septicaemia and very serious meningitis.

Although new vaccines are available, there are forms of meningitis that can still be fatal and have no vaccine.

The trademark symptoms can appear in any order and may not all appear and septicaemia can occur with or without meningitis.

For any information, call Meningitis Research Foundation's 24-hour helpline on 080 8800 3344.

Symptoms of meningitis:

Rash – although this is not present in all cases

Fever or vomiting

Drowsy and less responsive

Severe headache

Stiff neck – although this is unusual in young children

Dislike of bright lights – although this is unusual in young children

Symptoms of septicaemia:

Rash, which does not fade when glass tumbler pressed to it

Fever or vomiting

Cold hands and feet and/or shivering

Rapid or unusual breathing

Stomach, joint or muscle pain, sometimes with diarrhoea

Drowsy and less responsive – although this is not present in all cases

Babies may also suffer from:

Tense or bulging soft spot on their head

Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue

Refusing to feed

Irritable when picked up, with a high-pitched or moaning cry

A stiff body with jerky movements or which is floppy and lifeless

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