Meningitis is a serious, life threatening disease that is spread through close contact. Anyone, anywhere of any age can get meningitis, much similar to the Covid-19 pandemic that has swept across the world in recent months. Whilst recent focus has appropriately been on Covid-19, we are left unaware of how the pandemic has effected other illnesses, like Meningitis.

Research has shown that people who have meningitis can experience stress and anxiety after their illness, specifically “health anxiety”. Understandably, this can be heightened in the current situation; for example, people may choose not to go out or visit people through worry of infecting others. This can negatively impact recovery from Meningitis, as people are more likely to miss rehabilitation or support services due to the difficulties in managing these feelings.

Moreover, many people are on high alert to potential health threats because of their own painful experiences of meningitis. Concerns have arisen as to whether people are more susceptible to Covid-19 if they have had meningitis. This is not necessarily the case. Certain infections including meningitis affect a person’s immune system for a short time, but it does not cause long term immune deficiencies. However, those who have suffered serious injuries or disabilities as a result of meningitis may be classified as vulnerable or extremely vulnerable due to those conditions. It is therefore important that individuals consult medical professionals and follow the appropriate government guidance. 

Not only has there been an emotional impact due to Covid-19, but a physical impact too. Many meningitis survivors suffer after effects of the disease that require ongoing rehabilitation, counselling and support groups. However, due to Covid-19, many of these services have been interrupted and or put on hold. Jamini Wright, a meningitis survivor explained how “all of [her] follow up and physio appointments were put on hold” she said: “I had to teach myself to walk again, to use my wrists again, to try and get back to normal”. Covid-19 is understandably at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but the needs of those impacted by meningitis and other illnesses must not be overlooked.

What is important to remember and what can be done to help?

It is important people are aware that there is online support available for meningitis survivors. Meningitis Research Foundation have a free helpline, email address and live chat function on their website for anyone to use if they need help. They also have numerous resources on their website to support individuals, including further information, telephone befriending or virtual Meet-Ups. Whilst it is uncertain when in person support groups etc. will be able to meet up again, there are alternative support routes out there that many may benefit from.

There is also a real importance in restoring and maintaining routine procedures, therapies and rehabilitation. Meningitis can cause a range of health problems that can alter lives and it is important that survivors are provided with the care and treatment they need and deserve. We must not forget that meningitis is still prevalent during Covid-19 and so is the need for treatment, rehabilitation and support for Meningitis Survivors.

Freeths Oxford are proud to be Meningitis Research Foundation’s exclusive legal partner in the south east and to support their campaign to raise awareness and improve advice to patients. 

See www.meningitis.org 

If you or a member of your family have suffered an injury or if you have lost a loved one as a result of meningitis or septicaemia and you are concerned with the standard of treatment received, then our specialist medical negligence solicitors may be able to help. Please contact our specialist team on 01865 781100 or clinicalnegligence@freeths.co.uk.