Mother shares meningitis ordeal to raise awareness

by Ian Begley

AISLING Fagan, from Dublin 15, is sharing her first-hand experience of meningitis and septicaemia during national Meningitis Awareness Week (which runs from September 19 to 25) to ensure people are aware of the symptoms, know to be vigilant and act fast.
Aisling said: “My nine-month old baby Kayleigh-Ann had been fine all day but started projectile vomiting at bed-time and had a high temperature and a very irritable cry.
“My sister, upon hearing the cry, said I should bring her to hospital to be checked out.
“By the time the ambulance arrived her temperature had decreased, as I had given her Calpol, so they asked if I still wanted to bring her in as it seemed like a vomiting bug.
“However, my gut instinct told me something was wrong so on we went to hospital. It was there I noticed a rash developing and she was whisked out of my arms.”
Kayleigh-Ann was diagnosed with Group B Meningococcal Meningitis and Septicaemia (MenB), for which there is currently no vaccine in the childhood immunisation schedule in Ireland.
“This is why it’s so important that parents know the symptoms of meningitis, trust their instincts and seek medical advice without delay,” added Aisling.
Meningitis Awareness Week is run by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). The charity estimates that there are around 200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in Ireland.
They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in ten people, and leaving a third of survivors with life-altering after-effects, ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.
Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk, but the disease can strike at any age.
From this December, babies born on or after October 1 will be routinely offered a vaccine to protect against MenB; however, there is no catch-up campaign planned for older children.
Monika Marchlewicz, Ireland Manager of MRF, said: “We are extremely grateful to Aisling for helping to raise awareness. MRF funds vital scientific research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia, but there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by vaccines so it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms.
“We encourage parents to get medical help if they are concerned about their child, to be vigilant, and to return to a health professional if they have been sent home but symptoms progress.”
Check that you know the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia at www.meningitis.org/symptoms, and share theMeningitis Awareness Week campaign (www.meningitis.org/maw2016) with everyone you know using #MRFAwarenessWeek.
Call MRF’s helpline on 1800 41 3344, or see www.meningitis.org.

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