You'll have no doubt heard on the news today that teenagers in England are to be offered a vaccine against a deadly strain of meningitis. It follows a significant rise in the number of cases of meningitis being reported.
The BBC reports:
Just 22 people contracted Meningitis W in 2009, but that number rose to 117 last year - an increase of over 400 per cent.
Now there are plans to roll out an immunisation programme in a bid to stop the disease spreading.
Personally I wouldn't hesitate to have my teen vaccinated against meningitis, although I realised vaccines are topic of debate for some.
Currently, babies are vaccinated against meningitis with a booster available around the age of 14.
Leaving aside that issue, it's worth reminding yourself of the signs and symptoms of meningitis:
In older children, teenagers and adults, the symptoms of meningitis can include:
- a fever, with cold hands and feet
- confusion and irritability
- severe muscle pain
- pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash (although not everyone will have this)
- a severe headache
- stiff neck
- sensitivity to light
- convulsion or seizures
Do bear in mind that any of these symptoms can appear in any order, and not every patient will exhibit all of them. Under the new plans, all teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 years old will be offered the jabs.
If you're concerned for someone's health DON'T wait for a rash to develop - seek medical help immediately and outline your concerns about any symptoms of meningitis.