Parents placed on meningitis alert
The message comes from charity Meningitis UK as there is still no vaccine to guard against meningitis B, the most common and one of the most deadly forms.
Parents should watch out for a headache, stiff neck and a dislike of bright light as well as difficulty supporting their own weight, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, confusion and drowsiness.
Meningitis can also cause blood poisoning, known as septicaemia, which can have the symptoms of aching limbs, cold hands and feet and a rash.
As well as ensuring children have been vaccinated, the charity also stresses the importance of making sure youngsters receive booster shots to reduce the risk of infection.
Meningitis UK’s chief executive Mr Steve Dayman, who lost his son Spencer to the disease, said: “It is vital parents trust their instincts and seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. In the absence of a vaccine against all forms of meningitis, this could mean the difference between life and death.
“Many parents wrongly believe their child is fully protected from meningitis, which could prove fatal.
“We’re urging them to know the facts and be extra vigilant as their children return to the crowded school environment.
“Meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise in the early stages because the initial symptoms are similar to many mild childhood diseases.
“A child with bacterial meningitis or septicaemia will usually get ill quickly and can deteriorate fast, so parents should check their children often.”
Meningitis UK is offering the public free symptoms information packs to help raise awareness. These include a leaflet with all the facts and frequently asked questions, plus a “Check the Symptoms” fridge magnet and a wallet-sized symptoms card.