A GRANTHAM mum whose baby daughter contracted viral meningitis is backing a charity campaign to get people talking about the lesser discussed type.
Charlotte Reeves, of Ropsley, said:
Viral meningitis was a shock – it’s vital that it’s treated seriously by the public, health professionals and employers.
Her then three-week-old daughter Tabitha contracted viral meningitis in September 2007, spending two weeks in hospital.
Fortunately, after a year of follow ups with doctors and specialists, Tabitha is now a healthy seven-year-old.
Tabitha’s illness was identified very early.
Thanks to the team who spotted the signs when I took her to hospital the moment I knew she wasn’t well.
They are supporting Meningitis Now’s third Viral Meningitis Week, Vocal About Viral, which takes place between 4 and 10 May, to dispel myths and raise awareness about the long-term problems sufferers can face.
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.
A Meningitis Now 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.
And because the symptoms of viral meningitis can be similar to the more dangerous bacterial form of the disease, Meningitis Now is urging sufferers to seek urgent medical help if concerned.
Viral meningitis cannot be treated with antibiotics; rehydration, painkillers and plenty of rest 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, but for some the effects can be lifelong.
Clare Davis, Director of Services, Research and Education at Meningitis Now, 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 awareness 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.”
The charity has free viral meningitis factsheets, providing more information for patients, health professionals and employers. All factsheets include a summary of the survey findings and can be found on its website at www.meningitisnow.org.
It is also keen to promote its range of free services for viral meningitis victims, including funding complementary therapies, counselling, one-to-one support and home visits.
For more information, visit www.meningitisnow.org or freephone 0808 80 10 388.