PARENTS are asked to be aware of signs and symptoms of meningitis as we head further into the winter season.
The Meningitis Research Foundation has issued a special awareness message asking parents to ensure their children are fully up-to-date with vaccinations.
Throughout the past year, MRF launched a campaign to highlight the lifelong financial costs of surviving meningitis and septicaemia.
It believes that prevention is more cost-effective than treatment and has called on the Government to pursue the earliest implementation of vaccines.
But during Christmas and New Year, the risk of meningitis and septicaemia is heightened as immune systems are weakened from fighting common illness like colds and flu.
Bacterial meningitis is the most deadly and common form of the disease – with around 3,400 cases in the UK each year.
If it is misdiagnosed it can kill within 24 hours or could cause serious, life-long disabilities.
Current figures show that around one in 10 of those affected will die and a quarter of survivors could be left with after-effects including brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss.
According to the MHF, babies in their first year of life are at the highest risk and the disease is currently the biggest killer of children under the age of five in the UK.
Although the current vaccination covers three types of meningitis, children are not protected against all strains of the disease and there is no vaccine for Meningococcal or the Group B (Men B) disease which accounts for the majority of cases in the UK.
Outlane mother Joanne McDade is one of many parents backing the campaign.
She has previously written to Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney calling on him to push for a Men B vaccine to be included in the childhood immunisation programme.
Mrs McDade is backing the campaign after her son Alex battled for his life when he contracted the deadly disease.
Meningococcal Group B (Men B) is the most common of the three types of meningitis, accounting for half of all cases in Britain.
Although a vaccine has been developed, it has not yet been introduced.
Joanne and husband Adrian, a company director, are supporting the Meningitis Research Foundation’s (MRF) campaign “Counting the cost of meningitis”, which highlights the lifelong financial costs of surviving meningitis and septicaemia.
MRF is currently campaigning for MenB vaccine to be included in the immunisation schedule.
Chief executive of MRF Christopher Head said: “Our campaign makes practical recommendations to Government to reduce the burden of disease through vaccination in the UK.
“Vaccination provides peace of mind across the country and so far over 12,000 people agree with us and have singed our online petition.”
To sign visit www.meningitis.org/sign