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. 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. Of those affected, 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 born in the UK from July 2015 will be offered Men B vaccine, as part of the routine childhood vaccination programme. It has been confirmed that Meningitis B vaccine will be offered in Ireland to babies born from October 2016. There are no current plans for a catch up campaign to vaccination children born before this date
The Men B vaccine is currently available at Dooradoyle Medical Centre. If you would like to discuss Meningitis B vaccine for your children, please talk to your doctor/ nurse. Supply and administration of the vaccine is not covered by the medical card.