BE’s PR & Marketing Officer, a volunteer Ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation talks about her family experience of meningitis for Meningitis Awareness Week
Meningitis has been big news in the UK throughout 2014 but it’s no time to be complacent about the symptoms according to international charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) which is conducting Meningitis Awareness Week (15 – 21 September 2014) to reinforce the message that this deadly disease hasn’t gone away.
Julie became a volunteer ambassador for MRF after losing her brother-in-law to meningitis and septicaemia on Boxing Day 2009. In between working for Business Environment she represents the Bristol-based charity in London, talking at student Fresher’s Fairs, lobbying her MP about the introduction of the new MenB vaccine Bexsero into the childhood immunisation programme, helping raise awareness, fundraising and generally representing the charity at a local level as part of their national Ambassador programme.
The new MenB vaccine was recommended for use on the NHS to protect babies in March 2014, but it’s not been implemented yet, and a MenC booster campaign is currently underway for those aged under 25 starting university this year. Indeed, knowing the risks of meningitis, Julie’s 18 year old son Harry, who is off to university this week, has just had both his MenC booster and the new MenB vaccine. But people of all age groups can be affected by many forms of the disease. Everyone can help save lives by knowing the signs and symptoms and having the confidence to seek medical help fast when family and friends fall sick.
MRF Chief Executive, Christopher Head says: “It’s our 25th anniversary this year and after decades investing in research, campaigning and support, we have seen remarkable progress in the fight against meningitis in the UK in 2014. But we are still some way from protecting everyone from all forms of the disease. We cannot be complacent. Meningitis hasn’t gone away which is why we continue to promote the symptoms in the run up to the winter peak for cases with a life-saving national Meningitis Awareness Week.”
The charity estimates 3,200 people are affected by meningitis and septicaemia in the UK every year. One in ten dies and a quarter of survivors are left with life altering disabilities ranging from deafness and brain damage to amputations. Globally around 1,000 people die from meningitis every single day.