Charity issues meningitis warning for new school term

A meningitis symptom card to help diagnose symptoms early.
A meningitis symptom card to help diagnose symptoms early.

A national meningitis chairty has issued a warning for school children starting back at school for the new term.

Meningitis Now is urging parents, students and teachers to be vigilant and look out for signs and symptoms of the killer disease in the upcoming school term.

September brings the start of the meningitis peak season, and the charity warns that children under five are most “at risk” for catching the disease, while students and teenagers, between 15 to 23 years old, are the second most “at risk” group.

Around ten per cent of the population carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) but the risk is again increased to 25 per cent for students.

Symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, headache, vomitting, light sensitivity, stiff neck, joint or muscle pain, pale blotchy skin, drowsiness and confusion. The symptoms for babies are a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and bulging fontanelle.

Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: “Meningitis can be a difficult disease to spot - particularly at this time of year - as many of its early symptoms can be similar to those of flu.

“We urge everyone to download our app or get a card, familiarise themselves with the symptoms, trust their instincts and get urgent medal help if concerned. Doing this could save yours or a loved one’s life.”

More than 3,200 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia are reported in the UK every year and 10 per cent of those victims die, with 15 per cent who survive left with severe after effects.