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Meningitis Charities Warn UK is a European Meningitis Hotspot

The UK's leading meningitis charities have joined forces on World Meningitis Day, to call on parents to educate themselves about bacterial meningitis.

Bacterial Meningitis is an illness that kills more children under 5 in the UK than any other infectious disease. Anyone can catch bacterial meningitis at anytime. As many as one in ten of those infected will die and up to one in five survivors will be left with after-effects including brain damage, amputations and hearing loss which may require ongoing care .

The UK has been highlighted as one of the top three meningitis hotspots in Europe by the Meningitis Research Foundation, Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK , and the charities are calling on parents to 'Pledge to Protect' their children by learning about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and spreading the word through their joint campaign Meningitis: Keep Watching.

Despite successful vaccination programmes in the UK, children are currently not protected against Meningitis B – the most common form of bacterial meningitis in the UK . This can lead to parents missing the symptoms and delays in seeking medical advice, which can cost lives. The scale of the problem is highlighted in research showing that more than two-thirds of parents in the UK are unaware that current vaccinations do not protect their children from all forms of the disease.

Meningitis:Keep Watching campaign is a Facebook initiative which includes an awareness film and fun quiz to help educate parents about what to look out for and utilises social media so people can spread the word easily through their networks of friends and family.

Meningitis: Keep Watching is now urging parents and families to 'Pledge to Protect' their children from meningitis by:
sick baby
Bullet  Encouraging their friends to be meningitis aware by sharing the film
Bullet  Learning more about the signs and symptoms of meningitis
Bullet  Ensuring their child's vaccinations are up to date

“We cannot stress enough the importance of knowledge and awareness when it comes to meningitis”, said the meningitis charities in a joint statement. “Around six families a week lose a loved one to this devastating disease and we are working hard to help families avoid having to face this horrific situation. We are appealing to parents to visit the Keep Watching Facebook page and learn about meningitis and take the Pledge to Protect. This information could ultimately save lives.”

To Pledge to Protect visit www.meningitiskeepwatching.co.uk

April 2013

The campaign has been made possible with the support of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited.

About Meningitis
Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. These bacteria usually live harmlessly in the back of the throat. Most of us will carry them at some stage in our lives without becoming ill, and they help us build up natural immunity (protection against the disease). Occasionally, these germs get past the body's defences and cause infection.
Symptoms of meningitis include fever, vomiting, severe headache, rash (not present in all cases), stiff neck*, dislike of bright lights*, very sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake, confused/deliriousness and seizures (fits). *Unusual in young children. Other symptoms in babies include a tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the head), refusing to feed, being irritable when picked up with a high pitched or moaning cry, a stiff body with jerky movements or a floppy and lifeless body.

The Meningitis Research Foundation has a Freefone helpline – 080 8800 3344 – operated by trained staff and available 365 days. It provides information to the general public and health professionals and can handle queries in 150 languages. We also have extensive information, research insights and case studies on our website www.meningitis.org

This article simply contains information. If you are worried about your child, then you should contact a health professional immmediately.
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