Meningitis is infection and inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord (the meninges). Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs, and is the more life-threatening form of the disease. Bacterial meningitis/septicaemia is caused by a germ that lives harmlessly in the nose/throat of many people. Regrettably sometimes this germ invades the body, causing meningitis/septicaemia, with devastating consequences.
Meningitis B; The human cost.
Ireland has the highest rate of Men B in Europe. Unfortunately approximately 170 people get Men B meningitis/septicaemia every year in Ireland. Children under 5y age are at especially high risk: the peak is babies of just five months of age. Teenagers are another high risk group. The stark figures reveal that 10% die, while a further 10% have major disability: (limb amputation, deafness and brain damage). Approximately 30% have long term psychological effects.
SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Always remember that not everyone gets all the symptoms, and the order in which symptoms develop is highly variable. Meningitis/septicaemia in young babies are especially challenging for parents to identify, and doctors to diagnose. About half of all children are sent home by the doctor first assessing them, as the symptoms of meningitis/septicaemia are common to many common minor illnesses. Above all trust your intuition: If you are not happy, or someone is getting worse, seek medical advice-fast. This is a race against time. Detailed advice about symptoms is available at http://www.meningitis.org/symptoms
Babies in the UK get the vaccine:
Babies born in the UK are offered Men B vaccine, as part of the routine childhood vaccination programme. Babies born in the Republic of Ireland since October 2016 are now being offered the vaccine. You might find this an interesting article from the UK http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/clinical/more-clinical-areas/infectious-diseases/meningitis-b-and-septicaemia-cases-in-uk-babies-drop-by-over-40/20032741.article “The number of MenB cases in infants aged less than one – the age group most likely to be affected by MenB – fell by 42%, according to PHE figures.”
The Men B vaccine is currently available at Woodview Family Doctors. If you would like to discuss Meningitis B vaccine for your children, please contact the surgery to discuss this further. Supply and administration of the vaccine is not covered by the medical card.
You can help….
We can all work to help have this vaccine introduced for our children. We are very fortunate in having local politicians enthusiastically engaged in health matters. Whatever your political persuasion, pick up the phone and make this an issue for your local TD. Simply ask “When will Men B vaccine be given to all babies in Glanmire?”