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Thousands join meningitis awareness drive

Almost 40,000 took part in a recent drive to improve understanding of meningitis and septicaemia among the public and health professionals.

Meningitis Awareness Week was launched following revelations that almost a third of young babies with bacterial meningitis receive inappropriate early treatment which delays parents seeking further help.

Figures from Meningitis Research Foundation show that around half of children who have meningococcal infection – the most common cause of bacterial meningitis – are sent home after their first visit to a GP and not admitted to hospital.

Meningitis can be deadly. It acts fast, is hard to detect, and can strike at any age. The symptoms vary and can look different in each individual. While some vaccines are available, there are not yet vaccines available against all types of meningitis.

When her nine month old daughter Amy became ill, Kirstie Walkden from Manchester did everything right. Vigilant to the signs of infection she took her daughter to the doctor, where they were referred on to hospital. Once there, Amy was wrongly diagnosed with an ear infection, and the family was sent back home.

Over the following hours Amy’s condition worsened. Although she’d been told it was an ear infection, Kirstie’s parental instincts were telling her it was something more. Fortunately Kirstie trusted her instincts and rushed Amy back to the hospital, where she was diagnosed and treated for meningitis.

Thanks to Kirstie’s quick actions, Amy recovered and is now doing well. Alongside Kirstie’s story, Meningitis Awareness Week raised awareness of “safety netting” – the process to follow if a child’s condition worsens following a visit to medical professionals.

A video of Kirstie published during the awareness week reinforces why it is so important for parents to trust their instincts:

Find out more about safety netting here: www.meningitis.org/safety-netting.

Image: Meningitis Research Foundation

About the author

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.