World Meningitis Day

April 24th is World Meningitis Day, and I promised to help out a little by putting a few words and links here.

One reason I’m glad my children are rarely very sick, and that I always get a little antsy any time one of them does spike a fever, is that the spectre of meningitis is always there. I don’t even have any close personal experience with it, thankfully, but for some reason I’ve never forgotten the advice about rolling a glass over a rash to see if the spots disappear, and whenever anyone looks like they might have a stiff neck, my hackles rise just a tiny bit.

Maybe I watched too many episodes of ER in my young adulthood, or too many episodes of House in my young parenthood, but these things stuck in my mind. On the other hand, maybe it was knowledge picked up from awareness campaigns like this one, aiming to make parents remember that this horrible, sudden-striking, disease has not gone away.

In Ireland and the UK, the most vulnerable group of people are babies and young children. In the US, the main at-risk group is teenagers, and a vaccine is recommended for all 11-18 year olds. (My pediatrician’s office gives it at 11, with a booster later on.) But even the vaccine does not protect against all forms of meningitis.

No matter where you are in the world, it does no harm to be aware of the symptoms for all age groups, because catching this early can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia 

  • Fever
  • Very sleepy
  • Confusion
  • Seizures 
  • Non-blanching rash (doesn’t disappear under pressure)  
  • Vomiting  
  • Severe headache  
  • Painfully stiff neck 
  • Sensitivity to light 
Not all the symptoms may be present, and yes, a lot of this might look like the flu, but if you’re worried, please do listen to your spidey-sense and bring your baby or child (or teen) to the emergency room. This really is something that can escalate very quickly.

Ireland has the highest incidence of meningococcal disease (the main cause of bacterial meningitis) in Europe, with over twice the average disease rate. Irish children are currently not protected against all types of meningitis, so it’s important that parents keep watching for the signs and symptoms. 

You can find resources here from the Meningitis Research Foundation (UK) 
Some more information for the United States is here.

 And this is a video for the “Keep Watching Ireland” campaign. 

You can find links to other Irish bloggers participating in this important one-day blog march at the MeetMums site.

4 thoughts on “World Meningitis Day

  1. Kate Takes

    Thank you for helping to raise awareness – its always been one of those things I’ve lived in fear of but agree that knowledge is all-important in an illness like this.

  2. Herself

    Sadly, I know two people who have died from meningitis, both were in their 20s. College students are highly at risk too on both sides of the Atlantic. I didn’t know there was a world meningitis day – thanks for letting us all know. It’s a cruel disease.

  3. Thrift Store Mama

    Thank you for posting this. Mr. Quimby had an infant brother die of meningitis at age 6 months. This was many years before Mr. Quimby was born, but its still sad. His name was Robert.

    My MIL let us read her diaries once – she kept them for 9 years when she was in the thick of raising small children. She wrote an entry on Robert’s 6 month birthday after his return from the 6 month check-up. “He was a healthy baby.” 5 days later she wrote that he had a “high fever.” Three days after that is the entry where he died.

    1. (Not) Maud

      Oh, so sad.

      I think everyone has a story, if not from their family, from others. We have family friends whose son was brain damaged from meningitis as a baby, and I was in college with a girl who died of it too. It hasn’t gone away, that’s the point of this campaign. I think a lot of parents are under the impression that it’s just something people *used to* die of.


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