Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord which can cause these membranes (the meninges) to become inflamed, which can damage these nerves and the brain. Meningococcal disease can affect all age groups, but the rates of disease are highest in children under five years of age, with the peak in babies under one year of age. There's also a second peak in cases in young people aged between 15 and 19. The disease tends to strike in winter. If you think you or one of your family may have the symptoms of meningitis don't wait for a rash to develop but instead seek immediate medical help.
The Men C vaccine protects against infection by meningococcal group C bacteria, which can cause two very serious illnesses, meningitis and septicaemia. Children are routinely offered the Men C vaccine as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme at 3 months, 12 months and a teenage booster at 13-15 years. It is essential that parents take their children to be vaccinated when requested. However, the Men C vaccine does not protect against meningitis caused by meningococcal group B bacteria, so it's important for parents to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis.
Anyone under the age of 25 who hasn't yet received Men C vaccination can have a single catch-up free dose on the NHS. If you want a catch-up dose of Men C vaccine, please arrange this with your GP.
In 2011-12, there were around 2,350 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK. The number of cases has dropped since the introduction of vaccines that protect against many of the bacteria that can cause meningitis, including the meningitis C vaccine, MMR vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine”.
- The glass test. If you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin and the rash doesn't fade, it could be a sign of meningococcal septicaemia. But do not delay seeking medical help if you think you or one of your family may have Meningitis.
- A person with septicaemia may have a rash of tiny "pin pricks" that later develops into purple bruising.
- A fever with a rash that doesn't fade under pressure is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical help.
- From late summer 2014, students under the age of 25 who are starting university have also been offered a catch-up booster of Men C vaccine. This student catch-up programme will continue for several years until all university entrants have received a Men C teenage booster.
- It's also important to check your travel vaccinations are up-to-date before travelling in certain parts of the world.