Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the spinal cord. Many different organisms can cause meningitis, but the most common are viruses and bacteria.
Viral meningitis can make babies and young children very unwell but is rarely life-threatening. Most people make a good recovery; however, this can take time. Sufferers can be left with after-effects such as headaches, fatigue and memory loss.
Bacterial meningitis can kill, so urgent medical attention is essential. Although most babies and young children make a good recovery, some are left with lifelong after-effects. Some bacteria that cause meningitis can also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning).
It is vital to be aware of all of the signs and symptoms and seek urgent medical help if you are concerned. Early recognition and treatment reduces the likelihood of meningitis and septicaemia being life threatening and resulting in lifelong after-effects.
It is not always easy to recognise the signs and symptoms especially in young babies; therefore, it is important to trust your instincts.
Remember that meningitis can affect anyone of any age. Although babies and young children are most at risk cases do occur in adults. This is an important message for the staff and parents in your childcare setting.
It’s reassuring to know that your childcare setting will be Meningitis Aware.
First Steps Nursery in Oldbury received their Meningitis Awareness Recognition Mark in September 2018; Managing Director Jertinder Dulay said,
Meningitis is such a scary situation for a parent to have to deal with. As a mother myself, I would like to know that when I am leaving my child at nursery, the staff are aware of signs and symptoms to look out for if they suspect meningitis. Therefore having this recognition mark will allow parents, like myself, to see that our staff are aware and know how to act if they suspect meningitis in a child.
A baby cannot tell you what is wrong with them, so it is down to us as adults to safeguard, protect and look after them, so this recognition mark reflects this for our nursery. We were already doing a lot of the requirements from the checklist, so it was quite straightforward and easy to complete.
Vaccines are an effective way of preventing meningitis and saving thousands of lives. Vaccines are available to prevent some types of meningitis and have dramatically reduced the number of cases in the UK over the last 20 years. This is a real success story in the fight against meningitis.
Most of these vaccines are available as part of the UK routine immunisation schedule and offered to babies from two months of age. It is important that vaccines are given on time to ensure protection.
If you or a parent/carer and are concerned about vaccination or would like to find out more about meningitis vaccines then call our Meningitis Helpline on 0808 80 10 388.
Until there are vaccines to prevent all types of meningitis, it is vital to know the signs and symptoms and get urgent medical help if someone is ill.