On the back of a survey revealing that 95% of those aged over 55 do not believe they are at risk from deadly meningitis, the UK's only charity dedicated to fighting the disease has launched a new campaign to educate adults.
Branded 'Adults Get It Too', Meningitis Now's initiative aims to educate the entire country about the fact that cases of the disease actually increase in older adults, about the signs and symptoms for them to look out for, and about the actions they can take to look after themselves and their loved ones.
Launched at a House of Commons reception, the campaign is also out to remind older generations that while the vaccines which protect against some types of meningitis and septicaemia are given to babies, children, and young people, most over 55s will not have had these vaccines.
“The popular misconception is that meningitis and septicaemia only affects babies and young children," said Meningitis Now's chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt. "Many in this older age group may be more concerned about their children or grandchildren.
“We need to scotch this myth once and for all," he added. "Anyone of any age can get meningitis, with the risk increasing in older adults.”
Reported cases of meningitis amongst those over the age of 65 have doubled in the past five years, prompting the charity to encourage everyone to learn the symptoms - including drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure - by ordering free cards from www.meningitisnow.org/adults.
“This combination of increasing risk and lack of awareness is putting older people at risk from this devastating disease,” Tom said.
For more information on meningitis visit the website at www.MeningitisNow.org or call the helpline on 0808 80 10 388.