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Meningitis Awareness Week June 1-8, 2007

Meningitis Awareness Week June 1-8, 2007

Adults Get It Too


"One in five victims is adult"

Figures suggest that one in five people that get meningitis is an adult* yet most adults don't even know they are at risk!

Now the Meningitis Trust is determined to end the myth that meningitis only affects children, with a new 'Adults get it too' awareness campaign.

Fiona Colbert, Meningitis Trust General Manager said: "It's hugely worrying that meningitis is still seen as a disease that only affects children and we hope that our Adults Get it Too awareness campaign will raise awareness and reduce the number of adult fatalities.

"Many adults who become sick do not seek immediate medical attention; they go to bed, take a couple of paracetemol and hope they'll feel better in the morning. But meningitis can kill within hours and adults need to take immediate action if meningitis strikes.

"There's a huge opportunity for us to make a real difference to the impact this disease has - we want to arm the public with the knowledge they need to take decisive action."

NZ adults are being asked to contact the Meningitis Trust 24 hour helpline for a free symptoms card 0800 718 718. www.meningitis-trust.org.nz


* Most recent figures available show that:
• Of the 540 cases of meningococcal disease, 98 were adults. Of the 13 that died in 2003 five were adults.
• 11 of the 34 cases of pneumococcal meningitis were adults
• 8 of the 36 cases of streptococcal meningitis were adults
• One of the 2 cases of Hib meningitis was an adult (50%)

(Statistics: courtesy of NZHIS )

Meningitis - what adults need to know

*Adult = over 20 years of age.

A supporter remembers how she discovered meningitis affects adults

"I will always remember the first symptoms - a sickening dull ache between my shoulder blades and my skin starting to feel sore as it does when you get a temperature. I live on my own, so there was no one to spot that I was seriously ill. It didn't cross my mind that evening to call the doctor and I don't remember much of the following weekend. When I didn't go into work on the Monday morning, my sister came round to my house to find out how I was. One of my few vivid memories of that morning is the splintering sound of the police kicking in my back door. Five days later I woke up in intensive care."


Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the lining surrounding the brain; it can be caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Bacterial meningitis can kill, and is caused predominantly by meningococcal and pneumococcal bacteria; less common causes include TB and Listeria. Meningococcal bacteria can also cause meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning).

Viral meningitis is rarely fatal, but can be very debilitating; it often goes undetected and can have long lasting after effects. Most of the cases of viral meningitis we hear about are in adults.

Most adults (over age of20) will not have had a meningitis vaccine.

Many adults who become sick do not seek immediate medical attention; they go to bed, take a couple of paracetemol and hope they'll feel better in the morning. But meningitis can kill within hours. By learning to recognise the symptoms you could save your life, or the life of a loved one.

Be vigilant, be safe:

Meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia can present in a similar way to common illnesses such as flu, sinusitis and gastro-enteritis in its early stages. The difference being that meningitis causes rapid deterioration. Keep an eye on yourself; you could become ill very quickly. If you feel unwell tell somebody, ask them to check on you every few hours. If you live alone, or are away on business, phone somebody and ask them to stay in touch.

It can kill within hours, so every second counts. It is vital that if you think you or someone you know has meningitis/meningococcal septicaemia you seek immediate medical help. If you can't see a doctor, don't be afraid to go straight to A&E

Stay alert to the signs: Vomiting, fever, severe headache, stiff neck, aversion to light (dislike of bright lights) drowsiness, joint pain, fitting.

Trust your instincts. These symptoms may not all appear at, at the same time or in any particular order. In some cases, where septicaemia has occurred (blood poisoning) a rash may appear. This is a non blanching rash that does not fade when pressure is applied.
People are far more likely to make a full or partial recovery if the signs are spotted early and action is taken quickly. Ultimately, knowing the symptoms can mean the difference between life and death.

The Meningitis Trust is the only meningitis charity offering emotional and practical support to people affected by meningitis through a range of professional services including Counselling, Financial Grants, One to One Contacts, a nurse-staffed 24-Hour Helpline on 0800 446 087.

www.meningitis-trust.org.nz

ends

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