13th to 19th September is Meningitis Awareness Week.

Meningitis and sepsis kill thousands of people every year, and leave countless others with life-changing after-effects.  Freeths Oxford are proud to support Meningitis Research Foundation in their efforts to raise awareness and ultimately to defeat meningitis worldwide.

The fight against meningitis has been going on for decades. Although great strides have been taken to prevent deaths and life-changing injury from the disease, there is a still much to be done in terms of research and awareness. According to the Meningitis Research Foundation (‘MRF’), between 1999 and 2019 deaths from meningitis in children under 5 years old fell by 61% following the implementation of vaccination programmes against the disease’s most common forms. Though this is an encouraging difference, meningitis is still lagging behind other diseases like measles and tetanus in terms of positive change in the statistics.

Meningitis is the swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, caused mainly by germs entering the body. There are 3 types: bacterial, viral, and fungal. Meningitis still affects more than 5 million people globally each year, of which 1 in 10 sadly die from the disease and 2 in 10 are left with permanent impairment.

Time is of the essence to obtain treatment for meningitis, as sadly death can occur within hours. Though many people who contract meningitis do not suffer life-changing impacts, survivors can be left with brain damage or limb impairment, sometimes leading to amputation. At the first signs of infection, it is essential to take action quickly.

Warning signs for meningitis include:

  • fever and vomiting
  • cold hands and feet
  • severe headache
  • confusion
  • breathing quickly
  • muscle and joint pain
  • pale or mottled skin
  • stiff neck
  • dislike of bright lights
  • seizures (fits)
  • being sleepy or difficult to wake
  • a rash or blotches appearing on the skin that does not fade when pressed.

It is important to be aware that not everyone gets all of the symptoms and they can appear in any order. For more information, see MRF’s symptoms checker: www.meningitis.org/meningitis/check-symptoms 

As part of their Meningitis Awareness Week campaign, MRF are launching Meningitis and Me – an online platform for people who have been affected by meningitis and septicaemia to share their experiences, practical advice and support. Please click here: www.meningitis.org/maw2021 to find out more.

MRF will also be highlighting their global road map for defeating meningitis by 2030. The World Health Organisation (‘WHO’) ratified the tool last year, which is immensely promising for the MRF’s work. With the right resources and outreach programmes, we could be seeing the extinction of meningitis within the next decade. Go to : www.roadmap2030.co.uk to find out more.  

In the spirit of achieving a global reach, MRF has developed their online Meningitis Progress Tracker (‘MPT’).  This is a fascinating visual interactive tool with which one can see the prevalence of the disease around the world (https://www.meningitis.org/mpt). Let us hope that we will be able to chart its decrease over the coming years.

At Freeths, we see the impact which meningitis can have first-hand. As clinical negligence lawyers we represent families and children who have suffered a brain injury or another life-changing injury as a result of failures or delays in care. Pursuing a claim may not only secure funding for lifelong care, it may also help to identify lessons that can be learned so that similar mistakes are prevented in the future.

Freeths Oxford are 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 Catherine Bell, Director ( catherine.bell@freeths.co.uk / 01865 781140) Carolyn Lowe, Partner (carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk  / 01865 781019) or another member of our specialist team on 01865 781100  or clinicalnegligence@freeths.co.uk.