With the clocks going back on Sunday (29 October) and the prospect of colder winter weather, the risk of meningitis increases. People spend more time indoors; closer to others, meaning germs are spread more easily.
And fighting common infections like colds and flu weakens people’s immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to the disease.
Each year there are about 3,200 cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK – leaving 10 per cent of sufferers dead and a third of those who survive with after-effects such as brain damage, loss of hearing and sight and, where septicaemia has occurred, loss of limbs and scarring.
It’s a disease which can kill in hours, so knowledge of the symptoms, vigilance and quick action are all vital.
Trust your instincts
Dr Tom Nutt, our chief executive, said: “We urge everyone to familiarise yourselves with the symptoms, trust your instincts and get urgent medical help if concerned. Doing this could save yours or a loved one’s life.”
Meningitis can be a difficult disease to spot as many of its early symptoms can be similar to flu. These symptoms can include fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright light, joint or muscle pain, pale blotchy skin, drowsiness, confusion and, in babies, a dislike of being handled, an unusual cry, rapid breathing and bulging fontanelle.
Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all.