As schools return parents urged to guard against meningitis

PUBLISHED: 17:57 22 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:03 18 June 2010

A WARNING has been issued to parents urging them to guard against meningitis as their children return to school after the summer holidays.

A WARNING has been issued to parents urging them to guard against meningitis as their children return to school after the summer holidays.

Charity Meningitis UK says the close confines of a classroom put youngsters more at risk from the deadly brain bug.

There are concerns the swine flu pandemic may result in meningitis being missed because both illnesses begin with flu-like symptoms.

Children under five are most at-risk from the killer disease, followed by teenagers and students.

Research commissioned by the charity shows nearly seven out of 10 adults are unaware there is no vaccine to protect against the most common form of meningitis, (B strain), which causes nearly 90 percent of cases and can kill in less than four hours.

Meningitis UK advises parents to get clued-up on the full range of meningitis symptoms and to trust their instincts.

Chief executive Steve Dayman, who lost his own son Spencer to the disease, said: "The survey shows that many parents wrongly believe their child is 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 environment of a school, where germs spread more easily due to close human contact.

"Meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise in the early stages because the initial symptoms are similar to many mild childhood diseases.

"It is vital parents trust their instincts and seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. In the absence of a vaccine, this could mean the difference between life and death."

Meningitis UK is offering the public free symptoms information packs to help raise awareness. To order your free pack call (0117) 373 73 73 or visit www.meningitisUK.org


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