Nick Thomas-Symonds is helping to raise awareness of meningitis in Torfaen during national Meningitis Awareness Week (19-25 September 2016) to ensure that people are aware of the symptoms, know to be vigilant and act fast.

Meningitis Awareness Week is run by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). The charity estimates that there have been on average around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK. They are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs. Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk, however these diseases can strike anyone of any age at any time.

Symptoms of meningitis can develop rapidly. The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the well-known rash (which doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it), neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion. Although a rash is often the most well-known symptom, it is often a sign that the disease is advancing rapidly and it is therefore crucial not to wait to for it to appear before seeking medical attention.

Nick Thomas-Symonds said, “It is vital that we increase awareness of the symptoms of meningitis. Meningitis Awareness Week is a great opportunity to discuss this important topic, and I urge everyone to act quickly if they recognise these symptoms.”

MRF Chief Executive, Vinny Smith said: “We are so grateful to Nick for raising awareness. MRF funds vital scientific research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia but there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by vaccines so it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms. We encourage everyone to be vigilant and to get medical help if you spot the symptoms.”

New university students are also being encouraged to get vaccinated against a type of meningitis that has been on the rise in this age group. The meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine is available from the GP for those who are eligible. The vaccination programme covers all 14 to 18 year olds and 19 to 25 year olds starting university for the first time. Find out more here: http://www.meningitis.org/uk-menacwy

You can check that you know the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia at help to share the Meningitis Awareness Week campaign by visiting www.meningitis.org/maw2016 and using #MRFAwarenessWeek on social media.

For any questions about meningitis, septicaemia and vaccinations that can prevent the diseases call MRF’s free helpline on 080 8800 3344 or visit www.meningitis.org.

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