August 12, 2011 3.23 pm This story is over 147 months old

Charity warns parents of deadly disease

Fatal: A charity is warning parents to look out for a deadly brain disease that mainly affects children as they head back to school.

City parents are advised to watch out for deadly brain bug meningitis B as their children return to school, even if they have been vaccinated.

Charity Meningitis UK urges parents to keep watch for the signs, because despite vaccines against Hib, Meningitis C and pneumococcal meningitis, the vaccine does not protect against meningitis B.

A classroom is a perfect place for germs to manifest, and can kill a child in under four hours.

Symptoms include headaches, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, difficulty supporting own weight, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, confusion and drowsiness.

It can also cause blood poisoning called septicaemia — symptoms of aching limbs, cold hands and feet and a rash.

As well as getting correct vaccinations, parents should also make sure their children get booster shots to reduce infection rates.

Meningitis UK’s chief executive Steve Dayman lost his own son Spencer to the disease.

He said: “It is vital parents trust their instincts and seek medical treatment as quickly as possible.

“In the absence of a vaccine against all forms of meningitis, this could mean the difference between life and death.

“Many parents wrongly believe their child is fully protected from meningitis, which could prove fatal.

“We’re urging them to know the facts and be extra vigilant as their children return to the crowded school environment.

“Meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise in the early stages because the initial symptoms are similar to many mild childhood diseases.

“A child with bacterial meningitis or septicaemia will usually get ill quickly and can deteriorate fast, so parents should check their children often.”

Those that survive the disease are often left with after-effects such as brain damage, sight and hearing loss, limb loss and scarring.

Meningitis UK is offering free information packs to parents to help spot for signs. To order a pack, please call 0117 3737373 or visit the website.

Source: Meningitis UK | Photo: Sanofi Pasteur