Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is calling on everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis as the winter season approaches and is asking parents to ensure their children are fully up-to-date with their vaccinations.
MRF’s 2011 campaign, ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ has highlighted the shocking lifelong financial costs of surviving meningitis and septicaemia.
MRF believe that prevention is more cost effective than treatment; and are calling on the Government to pursue the widest and earliest implementation of vaccines to prevent the diseases.
The risk of meningitis and septicaemia heighten around Christmas and New Year when people’s immune systems are weakened from fighting common illnesses like colds and flu, making them more vulnerable to bacterial meningitis, the most deadly and common form of the diseases.
Bacterial meningitis affects around 3,400 people across the UK each year.
It is easily misdiagnosed, can kill within 24 hours of onset and may cause serious, life-long disabilities.
As many as one in ten of those affected will die and a quarter of survivors will be left with after-effects some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss.
Babies in the first year of life are most vulnerable, with it killing more UK children under the age of five than any other infectious disease.
Although there are 3 types of meningitis and septicaemia (Hib, Pneumococcal and MenC) currently covered by the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule, many parents are not aware that their children are not protected against all strains of the diseases. There is currently no vaccine for meningococcal Group B disease (MenB) which is responsible for the majority of cases, around five cases of MenB a day in the UK.
MRF launched on online petition in May calling for a MenB vaccine to be included in the immunisation schedule as soon as one that is safe and effective is available and for the government to change its criteria for assessing the value of vaccination.
Christopher Head, chief executive of MRF said: “’Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ shows how those who survive can struggle to come to terms with the impact of these horrific diseases which change lives forever. Our campaign makes practical recommendations to Government to reduce the burden of disease through vaccination in the UK."
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group