Kirkby mum raises awareness of meningitis

Fliss Shilling (right) of Kirkbyshe is an ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation.
Fliss Shilling (right) of Kirkbyshe is an ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation.

A Kirkby mum whose five year old son recovered after contracting deadly meningitis wants to use her experience to ensure other people are more aware of the symptoms.

Meningitis ambassador Fliss Shilling is sharing her first-hand experience of meningitis and septicaemia with the local community during national Meningitis Awareness Week (15th-21st September) to ensure people are aware of the symptoms.

Fliss said: “My son Jamie contracted Meningococcal septicaemia in 1995 when he was five years old.

“Luckily due to glass tumbler test publicity and the diligence of our GP Jamie was diagnosed quickly and has gone on the make a full recovery.

I think it is really important to diagnose this dreadful disease as early as possible so I’m supporting Meningitis Awareness Week as everyone needs to know the symptoms so they can seek medical help fast.”

International charity Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that meningitis and septicaemia affect approximately nine people in the UK and Ireland every day.

They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs. Children under five and students are most at risk, but the diseases can strike at any age and not all forms are currently covered by vaccines.

Christopher Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation added: “We’re very grateful to Fliss for supporting Meningitis Awareness Week. Meningitis and septicaemia are diseases you never expect to happen but her personal experience really brings home how devastating these diseases can be and why it’s so important to be aware of the symptoms and be prepared to act fast when loved ones, family and friends fall sick.”

Vaccines have almost eliminated some types of meningitis but not all of them, children are currently vaccinated against Hib, MenC and 13 strains of pneumococcal meningitis.

A MenB vaccine (Bexsero) was recommended for infants in the UK in March 2014 and is available privately but a timetable for implementation free of charge on the NHS is yet to be confirmed.

The UK Government has also introduced a new MenC booster campaign aimed at students starting university.

GPs can administer the vaccine free of charge until 31 October 2014.

The booster campaign will be repeated every year until 2017.

New students are at increased risk of encountering the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease because they are often living in busy halls of residence and in close contact with other new students during fresher’s week.

Students should get immunised at least two weeks before they go away to study.