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World Meningitis Day

Global communities urged to join the fight to stop meningitis this World Meningitis Day

World Meningitis Day, 24 April 2012, calls for people across the world to know about the signs and symptoms, urgency to treat, and vaccines available to prevent this potentially deadly disease.

The Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), of which the Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand is an active member,
is urging people all over the world to “Join Hands Against Meningitis” in an effort to reduce the global impact of the disease. The call-to-actionencourages individuals, families and communities to learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis, the importance of urgent treatment of the disease, and that prevention is available through vaccination against some forms of meningitis.

Meningitis is a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, which can be the result of a virus, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and can be associated with a potentiallylife-threatening blood infection (sepsis). Each year hundreds of thousands of people around the world die from meningitis, or suffer life-long disabilities. Bacterial meningitis, which is the most severe and common form, causes around 170,000deaths globally every year. Those surviving meningitis can have their lives devastated as a result of long-term effects, such as deafness, brain damage, and limb-loss.

While the disease can affect people of all ages, infants, children and adolescents are at an increased risk of infection. Meningitis is not always easy to recognise in the early stages, and symptoms can be similar to those of the common flu. Some symptoms to look out for are fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, drowsiness, muscle and leg pain. Many people do not know the warning signs of infection or that many types of meningitis can be vaccine-preventable.

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“World Meningitis Day gives us the opportunity to remind communities that meningitis is a deadly disease and one that can cause death or permanent disability in hours. People need to know the signs and symptoms, the importance of urgent treatment and the preventive role of vaccines. Anyone can get meningitis and empowering people with knowledge about the disease could save a life. We encourage global communities to unite in the fight against meningitis this World Meningitis Day,” said Bruce Langoulant, President and Member of the Governing Council of CoMO and father of a meningitis survivor with significant disabilities.

CoMO and the Meningitis Foundation aim to unite one million people from all over the world – approximately the same number that will suffer from bacterial meningitis this year – to show their support and virtually join hands against meningitis at:

To drive better awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, CoMO has today launched a video entitled ‘If I’d known then what I know now’ that features a range of people affected by meningitis and shares their knowledge in an effort to educate others and reduce the incidence of those impacted by the disease. The video can be accessed at:

The signs and symptoms of meningitis provided do not include every possible sign and symptom. They do not appear in a particular order and some symptoms described may not occur at all. Please consult your local healthcare professional for further information.

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