Be aware of the symptoms of Meningitis this winter

People are being urged to be aware of the signs of Meningitis this winter
People are being urged to be aware of the signs of Meningitis this winter
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The clocks are firmly set back, the evenings are darker, it’s cold, it’s wet and a night in snuggled-up on the sofa calls ...

But while we are all getting cosy indoors, there is a warning to be aware of an unwelcome guest at this time of year - Meningitis.

With cases of the killer disease peaking between October and March, charity Meningitis Now is warning people to stay vigilant to the signs and symptoms of the disease.

The population naturally goes into hibernation mode at this time of year, so with people spending more time indoors, getting ‘up close and personal’ with friends and family, it means germs are spread more easily.

It’s also the time of year when everyone’s suffering with miserable colds and flu, our immune systems are usually lower, meaning knowledge of the symptoms and quick action is vital.

Meningitis is a serious disease, so Meningitis Now wants people to know what to look out for.

It can kill within hours so the quicker you act, the more likely you are to save yours, or someone else’s, life.

Each year there are 3200 cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK – leaving 10 per cent of sufferers dead and a third of those who survive with after-effects such as brain damage, loss of hearing and sight and, where septicaemia has occurred, loss of limbs and scarring.

Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said Meningitis is a difficult disease to spot as many of its early symptoms can be similar to flu.

She said: “These symptoms 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 have a rash that does not fade under pressure, but advice from Meningitis Now is not to wait for a rash to develop before seeking medical attention.

“Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all.

“Without vaccines for all strains of meningitis, knowing the symptoms is the best form of defence. Download Meningitis Now’s free symptoms apps or request a credit-card sized symptoms card from its website at www.meningitisnow.org”

She added: “Anyone affected by the disease or who has concerns can contact our free helpline on 0808 80 10 388 for information on our free support services.”