Meningitis - Adults get it too

Reader's Digest Editors

One of the myths surrounding deadly meningitis is that it’s a disease that only affects babies and young children. But anyone of any age can get meningitis, with the 55+ age group more at risk. That’s why Meningitis Now, the only charity dedicated to fighting meningitis in the UK, has launched its new awareness campaign – Adults Get It Too.

Meningitis Now’s Adults Get It Too campaign is calling on adults to learn the signs and symptoms of the disease by ordering free signs and symptoms cards from its website.

Popular misconception means many adults may be more concerned about their children or grandchildren contracting this awful disease. But with case numbers in the older age group on the rise, particularly amongst those aged over 65, where reported cases have doubled in five years, it’s wise to be aware of the symptoms in adults too.

KEY FACTS

• Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord; usually caused by bacteria or viruses

• Some bacteria that cause meningitis also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning)

• There are around 8,000 cases of all types of meningitis each year across the UK

• Of those who contract bacterial meningitis, 1 in 10 will die

• Meningitis and septicaemia can affect anyone at any time

• In the UK, an estimated 22 people a day will contract viral or bacterial meningitis

"95% of people aged over 55 do not consider deadly meningitis and septicaemia to be a threat to them, despite the fact that the risk of bacterial meningitis rises in older adults"

"The study also highlights the worrying fact that three-quarters of this group are not confident in recognising the signs and symptoms of the disease"

SYMPTOMS

Request an awareness pack that includes a signs and symptoms card, leaflet and window sticker.

Early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to ‘flu, tummy bug or a hangover and include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • muscle pain
  • stomach cramps
  • fever with cold hands and feet

More specific signs and symptoms include drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash, which doesn’t fade under pressure.

The charity has carried out a survey, which reveals that 95% of people aged over 55 do not consider deadly meningitis and septicaemia to be a threat to them, despite the fact that the risk of bacterial meningitis rises in older adults.

 The study (1) also highlights the worrying fact that three-quarters of this group are not confident in recognising the signs and symptoms of the disease. Meningitis Now is using the findings to inform and educate adults of the risks they face and the actions they can take to look after themselves and their loved ones.

Michelle and Stuart Jackson on their Wedding Day

Newlyweds Michelle and Stuart Jackson were looking forward to spending their lives together but then Stuart was rushed into hospital. He had a temperature, was confused and difficult to wake. After making progress Stuart, 56, then took a turn for the worse. He had meningitis and septicaemia and died just before Christmas 2017. “They tried to revive him but he had gone”, Michelle said. “My heart broke that day and my life has changed completely without my husband. We only got married in February 2017 – married and widowed in the same year!” Stuart’s story is why Michelle is supporting Meningitis Now’s Adults Get It Too campaign warning that adults get this devastating disease too.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Meningitis Now is the founder of the meningitis movement and the only charity dedicated to fighting this disease in the UK. It’s working towards a future where no one loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need to rebuild their lives.

Call 01453 768000 or request an awareness pack online that includes a signs and symptoms card, leaflet and window sticker. 

Source: Public Health England Health Protection Report 2017 Published October 2017. Meningococcal disease incidence 1998 to 2017. Age 65 plus, 78 cases in 2012-13; 175 cases in 2016-17.