Urgent warning to parents as just 1 in 20 know signs of deadly disease

Urgent warning to parents as just 1 in 20 know signs of deadly disease

PARENTS have been urged to brush up on their knowledge when it comes to deadly meningitis and septicaemia.

Experts have now warned that the disease is ‘more than a rash’ after it was revealed only one in 20 know the main signs of the conditions.


Parents have been warned to brush up on their knowledge when it comes to the signs of meningitisCredit: Getty

The new survey also revealed that mothers were eight times more likely than fathers to know what to look out for when it comes to deadly bugs.

Carried out by the Meningitis Research Foundation, the survey highlights the knowledge gap Britons have.

Today is World Meningitis Day and experts warn that not enough parents know the other signs, apart from rash, that they should look for.

Meningitis and septicemia are closely related diseases because they are both caused by the same bacteria.

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Sometimes symptoms can resemble those of the flu, especially at the beginning of the disease.

Those most at risk of the disease are children under five, teenagers and young adults.

Claire Wright, head of evidence and policy at the Meningitis Research Foundation, said parents should think of septicemia as blood poisoning caused by the same bacteria as meningitis.

She added: “Every day we support people dealing with the life-changing impact of meningitis and septicaemia, from deafness, to limb loss, to epilepsy or long-term memory problems.

“However, the bacteria that trigger these diseases can be defeated in our lifetime through better vaccine development, availability and uptake, improved diagnostic tests and by knowing when to get medical help.

“It’s also important to remember that meningitis and septicemia are more than just a rash, which doesn’t always appear.

“This survey tells us that not enough parents are aware of some of the other signs to look out for.

“We want to change that, so that more lives can be saved.”

Conducted by YouGov, the survey also found that more than three-quarters of parents (78 per cent) knew that meningitis, which is caused by bacteria that infect the lining around the brain and spine, is life-threatening and can be fatal within 24 killing hours.

Most understood that the bugs could cause a rash and most knew that if you have meningitis, you can struggle with bright lights.

However, many parents were less aware of other symptoms.

Those that are usually associated with septicemia, such as cold and trembling feet – were recognized by less than a third of the parents.

Meningitis: The signs you need to know

The symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and include:

  • A high fever above 37.5 degrees – the average human temperature
  • be sick
  • pain head
  • a spotty rash that does not disappear when a glass is rolled over it
  • stiffness, especially in the neck
  • sensitivity to bright light
  • drowsiness, irritability or lack of energy
  • cold hands and feet
  • attacked

The classic rash associated with meningitis initially looks like small, red pinpricks.

But it will spread over the body and turn into red or purple spots.

If you press the side of a glass firmly against the skin where the rash is and it does not go away, it is a sign of blood poisoning and you should get medical help immediately.

Approximately 33 percent also did not realize that rapid breathing or panting was a sign, with 43 percent also not knowing that mottled skin was an indicator of disease.

Parents had some awareness of other signs of meningitis, such as a stiff neck and a severe headache.

The survey found that 69 percent of mothers could recognize at least half of the symptoms, compared to 33 percent of dads.

Just 15 percent of dads didn’t know any of the signs, compared to four percent of mums.

One father, whose little boy contracted meningitis in December 2021, said this lack of knowledge ‘must change’.

James Vincent said he had little understanding before his son George, 3, contracted meningitis.

The 41-year-old said he suffered from symptoms including fever, loss of appetite and lethargy.

James, who lives in Barrowash, Derbyshire, added: “I didn’t know anything about meningitis.

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“I knew something about a rash and a glass, but George didn’t have those symptoms and there are so many more, but often people are not aware of them.”

Since his bout with meningitis, little George has suffered from hearing loss and is currently on the road to recovery.