We’re hoping the week, between 4 and 10 May, will raise awareness to inform the public, health professionals and employers about the true impact of viral meningitis and the long-term problems it can bring.
Up to 6,000 people each year across the UK suffer from viral meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. The majority of cases happen during the warmer months.
Our survey found that 97% of sufferers faced debilitating after-effects including exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, depression, anxiety and hearing difficulties. Many have to take long periods off education or work, and struggle with day-to-day tasks that most people take for granted.
Seek urgent medical help
And because the symptoms of viral meningitis can be similar to the more dangerous bacterial form of the disease, we’re urging sufferers to seek urgent medical help if concerned.
Viral meningitis cannot be treated with antibiotics, and rehydration, rest and painkillers are the best remedy. Most people will make a full recovery but the process can be slow. The majority of sufferers no longer experience after-effects six months after their illness.
Clare Davis, our Director of Services, Research and Education, said: “It’s vital that everybody understands how serious viral meningitis can be and that those suffering it and their families are not afraid to speak out about it and seek the support they need."
“For our Viral Meningitis Week we’re calling on everyone to be Vocal About Viral – and help raise awareness by talking about the disease.”
The week is being supported by celebrity and TV doctor, Dr Ellie Cannon. She said: “Viral Meningitis Week is all about getting people to talk about the disease, its symptoms and its after-effects."
“The disease can affect anyone of any age, so learn the signs and symptoms, which can include a severe headache, a dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting and confusion."
“Carry a Meningitis Now symptoms card and help protect yourself and your family.”
We have free viral meningitis factsheets, providing more information for patients, health professionals and employers. All factsheets include a summary of the survey findings. They can be found here.
We’re also keen to promote our range of free services, tailored to viral meningitis victims, including funding complementary therapies, counselling, one-to-one support and home visits.
If you have an experience of viral meningitis and would like to help raise awareness in your local community, please contact our Communications team